Godmaker & Somnuri, Split LP: Excerpts and Edges

Posted in Reviews on November 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

godmaker somnuri split

Madness ensues. Some splits seem like a nightmare to set up. Bands are on opposite sides of the planet, have disparate sounds, there are different labels involved, all this extra whatnot before anyone actually gets to the process of writing songs. I’d imagine Godmaker and Somnuri getting together for a split LP released through The Company was easier. Like sending a text: “So, split?” “Sure.” Followed by the booking of studio time. The two bands, both of whom are based in Brooklyn, tap into a progressive take on New York’s long-established concrete-crunch noise rock, and both bands showcase considerable forward-forward-forward aesthetic ambition in their two included songs on this 30-minute offering. But even more than whatever commonalities exist in terms of geography, sound and intent, these dudes know each other. They’re not strangers assembled together haphazardly.

Check the lineups. Godmaker is guitarist/vocalists Pete Ross (ex-Cleanteeth) and Carmine Laietta (ex-Hull), bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Andrew Archey (Fashion Week) and drummer Jon Lane (ex-Bröhammer), and their 13-minute “An Excerpt” features guest vocals from Kurt Applegate (Family). Meantime, Somnuri are guitarist/vocalist Justin Sherrell (ex-Bezoar, Blackout), bassist Drew Mack (ex-Hull) and drummer Phil SanGiacomo (ex-Family). If you took everyone’s bands and put them all on a bill together you could have a festival at the Saint Vitus Bar. Granted you’d have to get a couple reunions going, but I think the point stands; it isn’t exactly anyone’s first time at the dance. And frankly, both Godmaker and Somnuri sound like it.

Godmaker released their self-titled debut (review here) in 2014, and Somnuri had their own (review here) last year, but regardless of the timing, the two bands both inhabit the modern sphere of New York noise, informed not only by the likes of Unsane, but by sludge and post-metal, by sundry other genres and experiences. The result is a sense of atmosphere to complement the aggressive push in both acts that remains coherent from one to the next, and as Godmaker‘s cover of Portishead‘s “Over” gives way to Somnuri‘s “Over and Out,” the ties there seem to extend beyond the title similarities.

So okay, they fit well together. Fair enough. Actually makes a lot of sense they’d get together for a joint release. As for the madness noted at the outset, that’s really more down to the audio itself. The chief impression I carried out of Godmaker‘s self-titled four years ago was one of scathe. It was skin-peelingly abrasive, but their “An Excerpt” hones a more patient delivery, unfolding with a buzzing tension beneath a steady guitar line and nonetheless enacting a fluidity around this darker theme. Recorded and mixed by Tom Tierney at Spaceman Sound, when it kicks in with a full-toned nod at about 90 seconds, barking vocals over top for a first verse that soon shifts into a chorus that reminds of Meatjack taking on the Melvins — that’s pretty specific, so I’m going to guess it’s sonic coincidence — it makes a return to the verse and the chorus for a second runthrough before shifting into the more complex aspects of its structure, introducing cleaner vocals amid screams and a chugging instrumental surge that gives way to winding triumph and, right about at the halfway mark, a falling apart of the proceedings entirely.

They crash out to near-silence with quiet bass and guitar setting the stage for the build back up — one can’t help but be reminded of Hull‘s layered-vocal victories here — as they shove toward and through the apex and set themselves on the final outward march that consumes the last two minutes, dedicating the final of them to sustained crashes and noise. After that, I’d question the necessity of the Portishead cover, but it’s listed as a “bonus track,” and I guess if you’ve got the space on the record, use it. They bring a beefed-up arrangement to “Over,” which appeared on Portishead‘s 1997 self-titled full-length, and include samples and a current of foreboding that comes through the cleaner vocals early and the later screams the accompany. It’s a welcome enough touch and shows a breadth of influence on the part of Godmaker, which is no doubt part of the reason it’s there, but “An Excerpt” is the highlight without question.

Somnuri answer back with two originals of their own in “Over and Out” and “Edge of the Forest,” neither of which hits the runtime of Godmaker‘s “An Excerpt,” but both of which find the trio building on the promise of their first record and bringing together a dynamic that benefits from the chemistry burgeoning among the players. Sherrell, who drummed in Bezoar and plays bass in Blackout, seems to be the kind of player who can handle just about any task he might take on in a band. Vocallly he’s in easy command in switching between clean and harsh lines, and his tone and that of Mack are both righteously thick without being indistinguishable from each other — Jeff Berner recorded at Studio G, while SanGiacomo mixed. “Over and Out” moves in its second half to a tight chug and weaves a lead line overhead to give a tonal contrast, and concludes with a full-brunt crush that’s absolutely punishing.

“Edge of the Forest” is longer by nearly three full minutes at 7:21, and uses some of that time to set up a more patient buildup à la Godmaker earlier with the crash-in happening right around the two-minute mark with far-back clean vocals reminding of the last Akimbo (yes, I know: wrong coast, but they were writing about New Jersey, so eat me) before the slow roars and screams drop in the midsection to atmospheric guitar leading not to a build, but a sudden slam forward that is propelled by the drums through a fierce but still controlled crescendo given vicious screams before a final return to the chug that first enveloped after that midsection quiet part gives a last-minute sense of symmetry and the piece ends on a notably progressive assault. The temptation with a split is to think of the bands involved in competition with each other, and maybe that’s what’s happening with Godmaker and Somnuri here, but the fact of the matter is both offer an intricacy of style that adds depth to their raw and sometimes angular heaviness. They work better together than they do as adversaries, in other words, and the aim in this split seems not to be to find them pitted against each other, but acting in unison toward their shared goal of conveying some of the best aspects on New York’s modern noise movement. It’s a thoughtful madness.

Godmaker on Thee Facebooks

Godmaker on Instagram

Godmaker on Bandcamp

Somnuri on Thee Facebooks

Somnuri on Instagram

Somnuri on Bandcamp

The Company webstore

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Review & Track Premiere: Vinnum Sabbathi & Cegvera, The Good Earth is Dying Split

Posted in audiObelisk on November 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

vinnum sabbathi cegvera the good earth is dying split cover

[Click play above to hear the premieres of ‘Intermission (The Good Earth is Dying)’ and ‘Arrival/Colonia’ from Vinnum Sabbathi and Cegvera’s The Good Earth is Dying split. LP, CD and DL are released Dec. 10 on Stolen Body Records.]

For as long as humanity has been willing to acknowledge its existence — a substantially shorter amount of time than humanity has known about it — space has represented a reason to hope. The question of whether or not we’re alone in the universe — spoiler alert: nope — and whether we might someday wander among the stars has been a central fuel burnt by science and science-fiction alike. But nothing is apolitical, and with their new split release, Vinnum Sabbathi and Cegvera remind that at best, interplanetary exploration and even colonization can only be a temporary fix without real, substantive changes to what it means to be human. The five-track/33-minute The Good Earth is Dying paints a grim picture that only seems suitable when one looks at shifting weather patterns, melting permafrost, rising sea levels, floating garbage islands and dying coral reefs, and though there are no lyrics, in the titles of its instrumental pieces, the offering brings the two bands together to work around the common theme. A narrative arc is followed that takes human beings deeper into space than we’ve ever gone before, only to find, colonize and destroy yet another world, having learned nothing from the collapsing of earth’s ecosystem that caused us to leave in the first place.

Samples from NASA documentaries pervade Vinnum Sabbathi‘s “HEX VIII: The Malthusian Spectre,” and the transition with “Intermission (The Good Earth is Dying)” involves both bands before Cegvera — who also see Vinnum Sabbathi drummer Gerardo Arias move to guitar to play on their portion — get underway with “Arrival/Colonia,” before moving into “Depletion/Overshoot” and the inevitable-seeming “Collapse/Aftermath.” The ease with which the two lineups come together emphasizes a central characteristic of The Good Earth is Dying, which is just how much the two bands are working toward the same ends, toward telling the same story instrumentally. Granted, the Mexico City and Bristol, UK, outfits have their sonic disparities, with Vinnum Sabbathi centering more on crunching riffage and Cegvera shifting from sludge into most post-metallic fare, but this split was born earlier in 2018 following a tour the two groups did together in Mexico, and rather than play in competition with each other as so many splits see groups do, The Good Earth is Dying — recorded, mixed and mastered by KB at Testa Studio in León, Guanajuato — demonstrates just how much the two bands work together.

Granted, for Vinnum Sabbathi, the 13-minute “HEX VIII: The Malthusian Spectre” continues a live-recorded, should-be-compiled-into-an-LP-at-some-point-how-about-now series of tracks that has also had two prior installments on their April 2018 split with Owain and began on 2015’s split with Bar de Monjas (review here), but that song’s relation to ideas about overpopulation tie directly into the destruction of natural resources characterized in Cegvera‘s three tracks. And there’s precious little to argue with in terms of delivery from Vinnum Sabbathi either, as the band fluidly bring their stage-hewn chemistry to the studio as one would expect. Their commitment to recording live extends back through their awaited 2017 full-length debut, Gravity Works (review here), and their earlier work, and at this point it’s their standard modus. Adding samples after the fact lends further depth to the proceedings, and a studio feel is enhanced as well through the sampling on “Intermission (The Good Earth is Dying),” which ends with a recording of people laughing amid the sound of bagpipes before shifting into the quiet opening lines of “Arrival/Colonia” that soon give way to such heavy nod on the five-minute track.

Arriving on this foreign world seems to be the easy part, and things are rolling along well enough on a heavy groove as Cegvera unfold their portion of the outing, but the atmosphere only grows darker with time, and “Depletion/Overshoot” finds them exploring textures out of mournful heavy blues and airy post-rock alike before turning again to heavier riffing — some prime fuzz, that — and in what’s presumably the “Overshoot” portion in the second half of the song, an increasingly intense forward pummel. By the time they’re into the last minute, cacophony has taken full hold of the song, and they leave a final note out to hang in open space as a transition into the organ-laced final statement, “Collapse/Aftermath,” which indeed feels suitably mournful as regards humanity’s prospects for a better existence. Fair. The floating guitars that showed up in “Depletion/Overshoot” make a return over a gradually-unfurled progression that, at 90 seconds into its total 6:35, turns to a build that brings it to more densely-weighted riffing. If that’s the collapse, then the aftermath is no less engaging or heavy in its execution, and one is reminded of the ambience that Vinnum Sabbathi are able to so naturally conjure on “HEX VIII: The Malthusian Spectre” with echoing guitars and such heft of tone.

That Cegvera would seem to be so much in conversation with “HEX VIII: The Malthusian Spectre” — whether the songs were written out or the concept decided before the tour or not — is emblematic of how well the two groups sit alongside each other. With the bulk of the time belonging to the latter, there’s nonetheless room for both to offer a suitable glimpse at their overall approach while staying on-message in terms of the plotline being followed. I guess the only shame is they didn’t have it to take on tour earlier this year, but these things have a way of working out, whether Cegvera — now a duo down from the three/four-piece they are here — return to Mexico or bring Vinnum Sabbathi to the UK in a show-trade. Either way, the split stands as a document of their time on the road and what they were able to construct in terms of song and theme alike. There may or may not be hope for the future of humanity — again, spoiler alert: nope — but no one other than the willfully blind can say we didn’t see it coming, and though the future they’re imaging isn’t particularly bright, that they’re imagining it at all speaks to one aspect of our species most worth preserving.

Vinnum Sabbathi on Thee Facebooks

Vinnum Sabbathi on Bandcamp

Cegvera on Thee Facebooks

Cegvera on Bandcamp

Stolen Body Records webstore

Stolen Body Records on Instagram

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The Flying Eyes and Lazlo Lee & the Motherless Children Announce Split 7″

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

You on board for a split between The Flying Eyes and Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children? I am. The two Baltimorean outfits have teamed up for a single to be released in August via H42 Records. I guess the news I’m waiting for on this one is that the release coincides with a tour of one sort or another — as that’s generally how it goes with The Flying Eyes. They’ve spent the last however many years kicking around between Europe and South America — I think they might’ve even been to Australia at one point? — as they’ve moved further away from their last proper studio album, 2013’s Lowlands (review here).

The implication there of course is that they’re due for a follow-up album, and so they are, but if it’s a single in the meantime with some buddies, that’s hardly something to hold against them.

No art or audio or preorders yet, but the PR wire brings an initial announcement:

The Flying Eyes and Lazlo Lee announce new Split 7″ this August!

We are happy to announce new cooperation of The Flying Eyes and LAZLO LEE & THE MOTHERLESS CHILDREN.

Baltimore’s best rock’n roller will fight against each other on a new 7″ in form of covering a song of their opponent! Who will win? Without giving too much, two intense tracks from two extraordinary bands will await you. The 7″ will be released in Europe from H42 Records and there will also be a US Edition from our friends Ripple Music.

The Baltimore Competition will be released this august!

From Baltimore, USA, the psychedelic blues quartet, THE FLYING EYES, is placed in Machart & instrumental cast between The 13th Floor Elevators, the Doors & Retro Rock.
In addition to the expressive & distinctive vocals, which often recalls Glen Danzig, the music of the FLYING EYES possesses intensity and melody, ranging from spherical, gloomy balladesque passages to wild, hypnotic improvisations.

Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children are a blues/garage rock-n-roll band out of Baltimore City. Lazlo, with his howling vox and guitar, front this two-piece band that was named after the old blues traditional ‘Motherless Children’. With the fast, heavy hitting Cocaine Jim on the drums, this act thrives on their energetic live preformance with catchy riffs and the ability to turn on any crowd.

https://www.facebook.com/theflyingeyes/
https://www.facebook.com/lazloleeandthemotherlesschildren/
https://www.facebook.com/H42Records
https://www.instagram.com/j.b.h42records/
https://twitter.com/H42Records

The Flying Eyes, Live in Germany 2016

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Hangman’s Chair and Greenmachine Issue Split LP

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

Okay, so this one apparently came out earlier this month, because apparently it’s late-March, and apparently it’s 2017 and I don’t know about you but I feel like maybe I got stuck mentally somewhere back around 2014 and everything since then has just kind of been a blaze with which I’ve been completely inept at keeping up. Sorry, what were we talking about?

Right. Split. Hangman’s Chair. Greenmachine. France and Japan, respectively. Doom on sludge. Music Fear Satan and Daymare Recordings. Tits and bondage on the cover. Blah on that. Pretty sure those are the basics.

Those of you with tabs on such things might recall Greenmachine are veterans of Man’s Ruin Records once upon a time, which is about as close as a band can come in my book to automatic cred. They’ve split up and reformed a few times since and had an EP out last year. Hangman’s Chair, meanwhile, issued their most recent full-length, This isn’t Supposed to be Positive, back in 2015, and it seems pretty fair to assume it lived up to its title.

The PR wire has release details and a video from Hangman’s Chair. Dive in:

hangmans-chair-photo-fredb-art

greenmachine

HANGMAN’S CHAIR/GREENMACHINE split VINYL LP, new MUSIC FEAR SATAN release

The new Music Fear Satan release : a split record featuring the heavy weight french doom metal band HANGMAN’S CHAIR and the famous japanese stoner band GREENMACHINE.

“After their last acclaimed full-length record “This is not supposed to be positive” (2015), HANGMAN’S CHAIR is back and teams up with the stoner japanese veterans GREENMACHINE for a split LP. We can easily recognize the HANGMAN’S CHAIR style along their two new songs with this mix of heavy guitar parts and melodic vocals. GREENMACHINE offers us a new long track divided in multiple parts. The split is released on CD via the japanese label Daymare Recordings and on vinyl through Musicfearsatan (700 copies, 300 on pink and 400 on black)”

tracklisting :
SIDE A
1. HANGMAN’S CHAIR – give and take
2. HANGMAN’S CHAIR – can’t talk

SIDE B
1. GREENMACHINE – red eye (pt.1.2.3.4.5)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/GREENMACHiNE/480031285391295
https://www.facebook.com/hangmanschair/
www.musicfearsatan.com
www.musicfearsatan.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/pages/MUSICFEARSATAN/173432646328
www.facebook.com/pages/MUSICFEARSATAN-LABEL/276530999081207

Hangman’s Chair, “Can’t Talk” official video

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Bible of the Devil & Leeches of Lore Split Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Chicago heavy rockers Bible of the Devil, now five years removed from their last full-length, which was 2012’s For the Love of Thugs and Fools (discussed here), have confirmed that the new track they’re planning to include on an upcoming split with hiatus-bound New Mexican weirdos Leeches of Lore is currently in the mixing stage. They’ve made the 7″ available to preorder directly from them — as in, send-us-an-email-and-we’ll-get-one-to-you — and among the easier arguments one might endeavor to make in a given afternoon is they’re a cause worth supporting through that or whatever other means. Good band, pairing with another good band, and all that.

They sent along a winter newsletter that you can see below, including a couple live dates coming up in Wisconsin and their hometown. Dig it:

bible of the devil

BOTD Winter Update 2017

We have just finishing mixing our 7″ track for our split with Albuquerque’s own Leeches of Lore to be self-released later this spring. This is another classic in the making for BOTD and we are sure you will be humming along to it soon! Pre-orders can be taken via PayPal at botdmusic@gmail.com for $6 plus $3 shipping anywhere in the US. For European orders or anywhere else, please email for pricing first. We all had a blast making this and can’t wait to make the push to get the next record done. Don’t snooze on getting a copy as this is a limited run!

BOTD also will be making two appearances this spring:

March 25th Sat. Kenosha, WI @ Hattrix w/The Miners (record release), Amulance, Burn The Witch

and then…

RAWfest!!!

RAWfest began in Chicago in 2005 as a vehicle to showcase the best of underground rock. While it has sat dormant over a decade (sometimes you get busy, you know?), we have decided to bring it back for a second edition for maximum fun. This is an incredible lineup and it’s highly suggested you buy a ticket. Poster made by Austin’s own Burger Ben.

June 3rd Sat. Chicago, IL @ Township RAWfest 2 Doors 4pm $10 adv/$12 dos w/The Safes, The Vibrolas, Buzzzard, The Evictions, Beggars, City Slang

Finally, a much anticipated tour of the south in July is being finalized as we speak. Texas, we had some weather trouble last time and will not be denied this time around! Dates coming soon.

www.facebook.com/bibleofthedevil
www.bibleofthedevil.net

Bible of the Devil, For the Love of Thugs and Fools (2012)

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Bible of the Devil to Release Split 7″ with Leeches of Lore

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

They should call it the Bands Who are Way Better than People Know split. The Bands You’d Probably Really Dig split. At very least the Bands I Really Dig split. It’s been since 2012 that Chicago’s Bible of the Devil last released an album. That record, For the Love of Thugs and Fools (discussed here), followed four years after 2008’s Freedom Metal and felt late at the time, so yeah, they’re due. No word on solid release date for a next full-length, but the metal/rock genrehoppers will issue a split 7″ in the fine company of Albuquerque weirdos Leeches of Lore, whose Toshi Kasai-helmed Motel of Infinity (review here) came out in 2015. There will be a new song on that, and at this point, I’m inclined to take what I can get.

To go with a handful of shows around the Midwest this summer/fall, Bible of the Devil are set to play Alehorn of Power IX (info here) on Nov. 12 at Reggies in Chicago. Full lineup and set times can be found with the split announcement below:

bible-of-the-devil

BIBLE OF THE DEVIL UPDATE + ALEHORN OF POWER IX @ REGGIES NOV. 12TH SAT.!!

BOTD has had quite a busy fall so far with successful October dates in Indianapolis and Columbus. They are now gearing up for the next installment of Alehorn of Power in two weeks with the mighty THOR headlining! Details with set times are listed below and tickets are only $20 to witness this barrage of heavy rock! BOTD will also return to the studio in December to continue working on its new album while recording a new track to be released as a 7″ with Albuquerque’s own LEECHES OF LORE. Look for it late spring next year along with some very special road dates in the summer of 2017. Stay tuned!

Slated for Saturday, November 12, 2016 at Reggies in Chicago, this year’s Alehorn of Power features an eclectic and formidable lineup of bands with one thing on their minds: exceptional heavy metal entertainment from the independent realm.

Alehorn of Power IX
Set Times
THOR 11:50-???
Professor Black 10:55-11:35pm
Argus 10:00-10:40pm
Bible of the Devil 9:05-9:45pm
The Lurking Corpses 8:10-8:50pm
Seamstress 7:25-7:55pm

Saturday November 12, 2016
Doors 7 PM / $20 / Ages 17+
Reggies, 2101 S. State, Chicago IL USA

Long-running Chicago act BIBLE OF THE DEVIL is not only Alehorn’s spiritual guidepost but also its musical cornerstone. The band’s unmistakable brand of heavy metal rock and roll embodies every bit the twin-guitarred, big-chorused, epic FM sound perhaps most associated with the festival’s history. This year’s set will include a selection of new material alongside hits from the band’s vast catalog.

Bible of the Devil is:
Nathan Perry: Vocals, Guitars
Greg Spalding: Drums, Loathing
Darren Amaya: Bass, Vocals
Chris Grubbs: Guitars

www.facebook.com/bibleofthedevil
http://bibleofthedevil.net/
http://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/

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Friday Full-Length: The Groundhogs, Split

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

The Groundhogs, Split (1971)

They didn’t, by the way, split. At least not immediately. Having formed in the early ’60s and cut their teeth as the UK backing band for none other than John Lee Hooker himself — because if you’re going to learn how to do boogie blues right, you go to the source — The Groundhogs went on to construct a history as varied, complicated and hyper-populated as the best heavy rock acts of their generation. Their fourth album, 1971’s Split, was released on Liberty Records and is probably their most known work. Put together by the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Tony McPhee, bassist Peter Cruickshank and drummer Ken Pustelnik during a pivotal run as a power trio between 1969 and 1972, it’s marked out by its four-part opening title-track, a rare chronicle of mental illness that neither romanticizes nor stigmatizes, but represents in a series of ups and downs and a move into and through chaotic noise the tumult that people still consider taboo to discuss openly some 45 years later. It’s not necessarily doing this in a showy way — primarily, “Split” and the album that bears its name are geared toward the simple mission of rocking out — but it’s doing it all the same, and coming from a more sincere place than many at the time building off the idea that “crazy” was something cool to be.

And while the titular cut consumed all of side A, it was by no means all Split had to offer. “Cherry Red” began a thrust of four more straightforward tracks, giving a raucous, falsetto-topped start to that progression in which one can hear the roots of any number of ’70s-inspired acts from Graveyard to The Golden Grass, McPhee‘s dream-toned lead work a highlight backed by Pustelnik‘s manic snare and Cruickshank‘s warm runs on bass. For aficionados of the era, there’s a lot about this period of The Groundhogs that will ring familiar, but no question they were hitting harder than most at this point, and in the time when rock first really began to get heavy, Split makes a convincing argument for inclusion among the most vibrant outings of the period. They may not have amassed the same kind of influence as Jethro Tull on prog, or Black Sabbath on metal, or Hawkwind on space rock, but the languid roll of “A Year in the Life,” the scorch of “Junkman”‘s noisy and experimental second half, and the unabashed Hooker-ism of “Groundhog” — a take on the man’s own “Ground Hog Blues” — define something that draws on all of those elements without aping any of them. Those years were infinitely crowded, and one could make a life’s work of exploring all the rock and roll that surfaced between 1968 and 1974, but The Groundhogs are a standout all the way through. Front to back. The way it should be.

As one might expect, different lineups and different offshoots of the band have surfaced over the decades. The Groundhogs‘ last two studio albums were cover records of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters that surfaced in 1998 and 1999, respectively, but they’ve continued to play shows with McPhee, who also suffered a stroke in 2009, as the remaining original member, and their legacy is obviously one already cast in stone.

Hope you enjoy.

This week, more than most, finds the actual output on the site not at all commensurate to the amount of work done on my part in the back end. What does that mean? Well, it means that hopefully by the time this post goes live the images, links, players, etc. for the Quarterly Review will be completely laid out (as I write this I still need to put together next Friday’s metadata) and ready to roll for this weekend, and I’ll also have at least started to put together an additional full-album stream and review for the new Fatso Jetson record, which since I suck at timing and planning alike also needs to be up on Monday.

My plan is to wake up early tomorrow and Sunday — two more 5AM days, to go with the 5AM days all this week, last week, and so on — and just start banging through as many reviews as I can get done. They’re shorter, obviously, but it’s never not been a challenge anyway, both conceptually and in the sheer amount of work there is, hours in the day and that sort of thing. It’ll get done though. I haven’t flubbed a Quarterly Review yet and don’t intend to start now.

Also next week, look out for the announcement of the next The Obelisk Presents show — it’s a good one; they all are — and an announcement for a new album that Magnetic Eye Records will have out that’s pretty awesome. I don’t have days slated yet, but Mammoth Mammoth and Devil to Pay video premieres are in the works, and there’s a new Narcosatanicos, new La Chinga video and so much more besides that I’m already stressed out just thinking about it, but it’s okay, because apparently this is how I enjoy myself these days. Adulthood is strange. And bald. Bald and strange. Why am I cold all the time?

Complete side note, but I’m also thinking of shaving my beard. All the way down. Starting over. If you have any thoughts in this regard, I’m all ears. Yes, I know it’s the wrong decision. The Patient Mrs. told me that as well. She’s right, too. I feel like it might be the right time for the wrong decision.

Okay, I have work that needs to get done — including for that, you know, job I have and whatnot — so I’m going to sign off on that non-sequitur. I hope you have a great and safe weekend and I hope you check out the forum and the radio stream, which I know you do anyway, because you’re awesome. All the best.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Ragged Barracudas & Pushy, Split LP: Free Range Boogie (Plus Track Premieres)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 16th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

ragged barracudas pushy split

[Click play above to stream Ragged Barracudas’ ‘Tables Turn’ and Pushy’s ‘Salem Man.’ Their split LP is out mid-July and available now to preorder.]

There’s just nothing to argue with here. German trio Ragged Barracudas and Portland, Oregon’s Pushy team up for a split 12″ on Who Can You Trust? Records, four tracks apiece on two sides obviously divided by band, three originals and one cover each. Let the boogie ensue. It is neither act’s first time working with the label. Ragged Barracudas released a 7″ (review here) early in 2014 and took part in the latest installment of the imprint’s Sweet Times series of four-way split singles, Sweet Times Vol. 5. Pushy, meanwhile, featured on Sweet Times Vol. 4 last year, and as Ragged Barracudas drummer/vocalist Christian Dräger doubles as the head of Who Can You Trust? and Pushy guitarist/vocalist Adam Burke has done artwork for label releases from Pastor and the aforementioned Sweet Times Vol. 4, it’s safe to assume nobody on one side is a stranger to the other.

Those connections come hand-in-hand with a similarity of sonic mindset, both acts embroiled in a modernization of ’70s impulses across the LP’s engaging 33-minute span. They share a lack of pretense in their methods and the circumstance that this 12″ platter is the most substantive release to-date from each of them, Pushy having offered up a digital-only demo in 2014 (review here) and a couple other odds and ends on Bandcamp in addition to the above-mentioned. Both acts sound formative, purposefully, but assured of what they’re trying to accomplish and how they want to get to the natural, classic atmosphere that ultimately unites them and makes the record flow between its two sides.

In the case of Ragged Barracudas, no doubt at least partial credit should go to Guy Tavares. Also the drummer/vocalist of Orange SunshineTavares holds the reins on Motorwolf Studios in Den Haag, the Netherlands, and Ragged Barracudas‘ output benefits greatly from the sweat-soaked rawness of the “Motorwolf sound” on their four songs, “Burning” (on which Tavares also contributes ghungroo bells), “Tables Turn,” “Walking on My Grave” (a Dead Moon cover) and “Conclusions.” With a strong sense of live performance and a down-to-business feel in the lightly blown-out vocals of Dräger, joined in the band by guitarist Janik Ruß and bassist Tom WeitenRagged Barracudas manage to keep a friendly edge to a successfully dangerous execution.

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Some of that might be pacing. “Burning” and “Walking on My Grave” both move at a pretty decent clip, but “Tables Turn” — a highlight of the release and the longest cut on it at six minutes flat — and “Conclusions” contrast with a more patient take. This direct back and forth, particularly over the condensed 17-minute runtime of the vinyl’s side A, sets up a flow that carries the listener along with the changes the band is making. I don’t know the circumstances of the recording exactly, but if it wasn’t completely live I’d guess it was at least mostly so, and whether it’s the almost-gothabilly ride cymbal on “Walking on My Grave” or the melancholic rumble of “Conclusions,” Ragged Barracudas show themselves as having a firm grip on their sound and a growing songwriting process that sounds ready for exploration on a debut full-length.

That’s something else they have in common with Pushy, who sound like the swing-fueled next step the Pacific Northwest has been waiting for since Portland arrived on the heavy rock map seven-plus years ago. They’re not the only band from what’s become a capitol of US heavy to take a bite out of the ’70s grooves of ZZ Top and James Gang, but they do it exceedingly well, whether it’s the start-stop bass groove from Neal Munson on “Zionara” or the sleaze in Burke‘s vocals on side-opener “In My Mouth.”

Blue Cheer are a major factor in that song, and not to its detriment, as BurkeMunson, guitarist Ron Wesley and drummer Travis Claw set themselves up for the funky turn that “I Need More Time” — a cover of The Meters — brings, twisting guitars leading the way into a resounding hook before twin-leads meet up for a scathingly bluesy apex that shifts back into the chorus to finish out. “Salem Man” follows with an admirably believable “rama-lam-bam-bam” worked into its lyrics, and as Pushy‘s tracks are arranged shortest to longest, as they make their move toward “Zionara” to finish out, they get correspondingly bolder, so that the final nod of “Zionara” is not only its own payoff but that also for the band’s entire portion, played out over a lean, deceptively-efficient 15 minutes.

Like I said at the outset, there’s just nothing to argue with here. In performance and songwriting, Ragged Barracudas and Pushy complement each other fluidly. It’s telling that the split’s cover artwork — presumably by Burke — is on what looks like reclaimed wood from an old barn, since both bands have an underlying element of the organic to their approach as well. In accord with that, their combined output sounds ready to stand the test of time.

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Ragged Barracudas & Pushy split preorder

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