My feelings on heavy rock legends the Melvins remain unchanged. I probably don’t ever need to see the band live again. Barring some seismic shift in their approach or my own personal taste, I probably don’t need to hear another Melvins record for as long as I live — even less a double-album, sorry. I know for a fact I don’t need to read another bloated-journo thinkpiece about how experimental or important they are or how everyone from Seattle got famous and they didn’t and therefore, integrity. These feelings are what they have been.
I also continue to respect the crap out of the fact that as they get ready to release their who-even-knows-anymore-th album, they’re doing so with 12 weeks of touring. In North America. You know they’ll be in Europe again before the end of the year as well. Sorry, but however Meh-lvins you (or I) might feel, they’re aren’t a lot of bands who either can or would be willing to break their collective ass like that on the road at this stage in their career.
So there you go. New double-album, A Walk with Love and Death, is out in July on Ipecac. Tour starts July 5 with support from Brooklyn’s Spotlights.
PR wire has it like this:
THE MELVINS PLOT 12-WEEK NORTH AMERICAN TOUR IN SUPPORT OF FORTHCOMING DOUBLE ALBUM, A WALK WITH LOVE & DEATH (JULY 7, IPECAC RECORDINGS)
IPECAC LABELMATES, SPOTLIGHTS, OPEN ON ALL DATES
The Melvins, who release the double album A Walk With Love & Death on July 7 via Ipecac Recordings, announce their most extensive North American tour to date, with dates stretching from July 5 to Oct. 3.
Tickets for the tour, which stretches from Florida to British Columbia, from Southern California to New England, are on-sale this Friday at 10 a.m. local time.
With A Walk With Love & Death, the trio of Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and Steve McDonald showcase two distinct sides of the band’s music: Death, a proper Melvins’ release and Love, the score to the Jesse Nieminen directed, self-produced short also titled A Walk With Love & Death. A release date for the short has not been announced yet but a trailer has been made available. The albums, which include guests Joey Santiago (The Pixies), Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes/Crystal Fairy) and Anna Waronker (That Dog), were co-produced with Toshi Kosai.
A Walk With Love & Death tour dates: July 5 San Diego, CA Casbah July 6 Santa Ana, CA The Observatory July 7 Los Angeles, CA The Troubadour July 8 Fresno, CA Strummer’s July 9 Sacramento, CA Goldfield Trading Post July 10 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall July 12 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theatre July 14 Vancouver, BC Venue Nightclub July 17 Edmonton, AB Union Hall July 18 Calgary, AB The Marquee July 20 Winnipeg, MB Pyramid Cabaret July 21 Fargo, ND The Aquarium July 22 Minneapolis, MN Grumpy’s Bash July 24 Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall Ballroom July 25 Chicago, IL The Metro July 26 Grand Rapids, MI The Pyramid Scheme July 27 Detroit, MI El Club July 28 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop July 29 Columbus, OH A&R Music Bar July 31 Pittsburgh, PA Rex Theater August 1 Syracuse, NY The Westcott Theater August 2 Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club August 3 New York, NY Irving Plaza August 4 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer August 5 Asbury Park, NJ The Stone Pony August 6 Baltimore, MD Ottobar August 8 Richmond, VA The Broadberry August 9 Carrboro, NC Cat’s Cradle August 10 Knoxville, TN The Concourse August 11 Louisville, KY Headliner’s Music Hall August 12 St. Louis, MO The Ready Room August 13 Lawrence, KS The Bottleneck August 15 Englewood, CO Gothic Theatre August 17 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge August 18 Las Vegas, NV Psycho Fest August 20 San Jose, CA The Ritz August 21 Santa Cruz, CA The Catalyst August 22 Los Angeles, CA The Echo September 5 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom September 6 Tucson, AX 191 Toole September 8 Austin, TX The Mohawk September 9 Dallas, TX Tree’s September 10 San Antonio, TX Paper Tiger September 11 Houston, TX Warehouse Live (Studio) September 13 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jack’s September 14 Pensacola, FL Vinyl Music Hall September 15 Jacksonville, FL Jack Rabbit’s September 16 Tampa, FL The Orpheum September 17 Ft. Lauderdale, FL The Culture Room September 18 Orlando, FL The Social September 20 Athens, GA 40 Watt Club September 21 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade (Hell Stage) September 22 Nashville, TN 3rd & Lindsley September 23 Memphis, TN Hi-Tone September 25 Madison, WI High Noon Saloon September 26 Rock Island, IL Rock Island Brewing Co. September 27 Des Moines, IA Wooly’s September 28 Omaha, NE The Waiting Room September 30 Ft. Collins, CO Aggie Theatre October 2 Albuquerque, NM The Launchpad October 3 Flagstaff, AZ The Green Room
Spotlights, who will release their Ipecac debut this fall, open on all dates.
The Melvins will also perform with Tool on June 24 at the Glen Helem Amphitheater in San Bernardino, Calif.
Brooklynite duo/live trio Spotlights have basically done nothing but earn accolades since the release last year of their debut album, Tidals. You won’t hear me argue, but it’s kind of rare to find such general consensus on anything these days, let alone new bands. Even their Spiders EP (review here), which was a couple tracks and a remix, came widely hailed.
Sometimes hype like that can be a hindrance, especially in Brooklyn, where if someone knows your name there’s a decent chance you’re already passe, but in the case of Spotlights, they’ve just been signed to Ipecac Recordings, so I guess it’s a double-win. They’ll record a sophomore full-length, yet untitled, later this year with Aaron Harris (ex-Isis) at the helm. As if they were hurting for good-company-type associations.
Kudos to the band and the momentum they’ve built. The PR wire has all the latest info:
SPOTLIGHTS SIGN TO IPECAC; BROOKLYN-BASED BAND WORKING ON NEW ALBUM WITH PRODUCER AARON HARRIS (ISIS/PALMS)
Spotlights, the Brooklyn-based band featuring Mario and Sarah Quintero (formerly of Sleep Lady), have signed to Ipecac Recordings.
The band, who tour as a trio, are working on an as-of-yet untitled full-length with ISIS’/Palms’ Aaron Harris serving as producer. A fall release date is expected.
“It’s such an honor to join Ipecac’s amazing roster,” said the band. “We couldn’t have imagined a better home for the band and our new record.”
“The best part of being a music fan is discovering new artists,” added Ipecac co-owner Greg Werckman. “The best part of being a record label is getting to be the place that introduces music fans to diverse artists. We are thrilled to add Spotlights to the Ipecac family and are sure that a lot of people will share our enthusiasm for their music.”
Spotlights’ most recent releases include the Spiders EP and a previously released full-length titled Tidals.
Spotlights, who were handpicked to open on the Deftones’ summer 2016 tour, will return to the road this summer. Tour dates to be announced soon.
Posted in Reviews on December 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
2016 ends and 2017 starts off on the right foot with a brand new Quarterly Review roundup. The first time I ever did one of these was at the end of 2014 and I called the feature ‘Last Licks.’ Fortunately, I’ve moved on from that name, but that is kind of how I’m thinking about this particular Quarterly Review. You’ll find stuff that came out spread all across 2016, early, middle, late, but basically what I’m trying to do here is get to a point where it’s not March and I’m still reviewing albums from November. Will it work? Probably not, but in order to try my damnedest to make it do so anyway, I’m making this Quarterly Review six full days. Monday to Monday instead of Monday to Friday. 60 reviews in six posts. Sounds like madness because it is madness. Let’s get started.
Quarterly Review #1-10:
San Francisco trio Hornss debuted on RidingEasy Records with 2014’s No Blood No Sympathy (review here) and further their raw genre blend on Telepath, their half-hour follow-up LP delivered via STB, melding heavy punk and metallic impulses to a noisy, thick-toned thrust on songs like “Atrophic” and the bouncing “Sargasso Heart” while opener “St. Genevieve” and the penultimate “Old Ghosts” dig into more stonerly nod. The latter track is the longest inclusion on the record at 3:26, and with 11 cuts there’s plenty of jumping between impulses to be done, but the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mike Moracha, bassist/vocalist Nick Nava – both formerly of desert punkers Solarfeast – and drummer Bil Bowman (ex-Zodiac Killers) work effectively and efficiently to cast an identity for themselves within the tumult. It’s one that finds them reveling in the absence of pretense and the sometimes-caustic vibes of songs like “Leaving Thermal,” which nonetheless boast an underlying catchiness, speaking to a progression from the first album.
Easily justifiable decision on the part of Denver’s Khemmis to return to Flatline Audio and producer Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, etc.) for their second album, Hunted. No reason to fix what clearly wasn’t broken about their 2015 debut, Absolution (review here), and on the 20 Buck Spin Records release, they don’t. A year later, the four-piece instead build on the doomly grandeur of the first outing and push forward in aesthetic, confidence and purpose, whether that’s shown in mournful opener “Above the Water,” the darker “Candlelight” that follows, or the centerpiece “Three Gates,” which opens as muddied death metal before shifting into a cleaner chorus, creating a rare bridge between doom and modern metal. Khemmis save the most resonant crush for side B, however, with the nine-minute “Beyond the Door” capping with vicious stomp before the 13-minute title-track, which closes the album with an urgency that bleeds even into spacious and melodic break that sets up the final apex to come, as emotionally charged as it is pummeling.
In addition to the outright charm of titles like “Doominati,” “Coup d’étwat,” “Murdercycle” and “Urinal Acid” (the latter a bonus track), Rochester, New York’s Fox 45 offer fuzzy roll on their Twin Earth Records debut full-length, Ashes of Man, the three-piece of Amanda Rampe, Vicky Tee and Casey Learch finding space for themselves between the post-Acid King nod of “Necromancing the Stone” and more swing-prone movements like the relatively brief “Soul Gourmandizer.” Playing back and forth between longer and shorter tracks gives Ashes of Man a depth of character – particularly encouraging since it’s Fox 45’s first record – and the low-end push that leads “Phoenix Tongue” alone is worth the price of admission, let alone the familiar-in-the-right-ways straightforward heavy riffing of “Narcissister” a short while later. Very much a debut, but one that sets up a grunge-style songwriting foundation on which to build as they move forward, and Fox 45 seem to have an eye toward doing precisely that.
Double-guitar Pittsburgh four-piece Monolith Wielder make their self-titled debut through Italian imprint Argonauta Records, bringing together Molasses Barge guitarist Justin Gizzi and Zom guitarist/vocalist Gero von Dehn with bassist Ray Ward (since replaced by Amy Bianco) and drummer Ben Zerbe (also Mandrake Project) for 10 straightforward tracks that draw together classic Sabbathian doom with post-grunge heavy rock roll. There’s a workingman’s sensibility to the riffing of “No Hope No Fear” and the earlier, more ‘90s moodiness of “Angels Hide” – von Dehn’s vocals over the thick tones almost brings to mind Sevendust on that particularly catchy chorus – but Monolith Wielder’s Monolith Wielder isn’t shy about bringing atmospherics to the Iommic thrust of its eponymous cut or the penultimate “King Under Fire,” which recalls the self-titled Alice in Chains in its unfolding bleakness before closer “Electric Hessian” finishes with a slight uptick in pace and a fade out and back in (and a last sample) that hints at more to come.
The stomp and clap intro “The Man Who Would be King” casts an immediately bluesy hue on No Man’s Valley’s debut album, Time Travel (LP release on Nasoni), and the Netherlands-based five-piece seem only too happy to build on that from there. It’s a blend outfits like The Flying Eyes and Suns of Thyme have proffered for several years now between heavy psychedelia and blues, but No Man’s Valley find a niche for themselves in the dreamy and patient execution of “Sinking the Lifeboat,” a highlight of the eight-track/33-minute LP, and bring due personality to the classic-style jangle-and-swing of “The Wolves are Coming” as well, so that Time Travel winds up more textured than redundant as it makes its way toward six-minute piano-laden finale “Goon.” Once there, they follow a linear course with a post-All Them Witches looseness that solidifies into a resonant and deeply engaging apex, underscoring the impressive reach No Man’s Valley have brought to bear across this first LP of hopefully many to come.
Barcelona classic rocking four-piece Saturna seem to avoid the boogie trap when they want to, as on the more rolling, modern heavy groove of “Five Fools,” and that keeps their World in Sound/PRC Music third album, III/Lost in Time, from being too predictable after the opening “Tired to Fight” seems to set up Thin Lizzy idolatry. They dip into more complex fare on “Leave it All,” somewhere between Skynyrd leads, Deep Purple organ-isms topped with a rousing hook, but keep some shuffle on songs like “Disease” and the earlier “All Has Been Great.” Highlight/closer “Place for Our Soul” seems to be literal in its title, with a more subdued approach and harmonized vocal delivery, and listening to its more patient delivery one can’t help but wonder why that soul should be relegated to the end of the album instead of featured throughout, but the songwriting is solid and the delivery confident, so while familiar, there’s ultimately little to complain about with what III/Lost in Time offers.
Especially with the title of their second EP set as Hate from the Bong, one might be tempted to put Belgian outfit MØLK immediately in the same category of malevolent stoner/sludge metal as the likes of Bongripper, but frankly they sound like they’re having too much fun for that on the five-tracker, reveling in lyrical shenanigans on the politically suspect “Stonefish” and opener “Methamphetamine.” Make no mistake, they’re suitably druggy, but even Hate from the Bong’s title-track seems to keep its tongue in cheek as it unfolds its post-Electric Wizard echoes and tonal morass. That gives the five-piece an honest vibe – they’re a relatively new band, having released their first EP in 2016 as well; why shouldn’t they be having a good time? – to coincide with all that thickened low end and vocal reverb, and though they’re obviously growing, there isn’t much more I’d ask of them from a debut full-length, which is a task they sound ready to take on in these songs.
Italian cult rock outfit Psychedelic Witchcraft have proven somewhat difficult to keep up with over the last year-plus. As they’ve hooked up with Soulseller Records and reissued their Black Magic Man EP (review here), their full-length debut, The Vision, and already announced a follow-up compilation in 2017’s Magick Rites and Spells, the band consistently work to feature the vocals of Virginia Monti (also Dead Witches) amid semi-retro ‘70s-style boogie, as heard on the debut in cuts like “Witches Arise” and “Wicked Ways.” At nine tracks/34 minutes, however, The Vision is deceptively efficient, and though they’re unquestionably playing to style, Psychedelic Witchcraft find room to vary moods on “The Night” and the subdued strum of “The Only One Who Knows,” keeping some sonic diversity while staying largely on-theme lyrically. To call the album cohesive is underselling its purposefulness, but the question is how the band will build on the bluesy soulfulness of “Magic Hour Blues” now that they’ve set this progression in motion. Doesn’t seem like it will be all that long before we find out.
Following the heavy post-rock wash of their 2016 debut album, Tidals, Brooklynite two-piece Spotlights – bassist/guitarist/vocalist Sarah Quintero and guitarist/synthesis/vocalist Mario Quintero – return on the quick with a three-track EP, Spiders, and set themselves toward further sonic expansion. The centerpiece “She Spider” is a Mew cover, electronic beats back opener “A Box of Talking Heads V2” and the spacious closer “Joseph” is a track from Tidals remixed by former Isis drummer Aaron Harris. So, perhaps needless to say, they hit that “expansion” mark pretty head-on. The finale turns out to be the high point, more cinematic in its ambience, but still moving through with an underlying rhythm to the wash of what one might otherwise call drones before becoming more deeply post-Nine Inch Nails in its back half. How many of these elements might show up on Spotlights’ next record, I wouldn’t guess, but the band takes an important step by letting listeners know the potential is there, adding three wings onto their wheelhouse in three tracks, which is as efficient conceptually as it is sonically immersive.
This self-titled second full-length from Malmö, Sweden-based Moon Coven begins with its longest track (immediate points) in “Storm” and works quickly to nail down a far-reaching meld between heavy psych and riffy density. Issued through the much-respected Transubstans Records, it’s a nine-track/50-minute push that can feel unipolar on an initial listen, but largely avoids that trap through tonal hypnosis and fluid shifts into and out of jams on cuts like “The Third Eye,” while centerpiece “Haramukh High” provides a solidified moment before the organ interlude “The Ice Temple” leads into the mega-roll of finisher “White Sun.” What seems to be a brooding sensibility from the artwork – a striking departure from their 2014 debut, Amanita Kingdom – is actually a far more colorful affair than it might at first appear, and well justifies the investment of repeat visits in the far-out nod of “Conspiracy” and the swirling “Winter,” which goes so far as to add melodic texture in the vocals and notably fuzzed guitar, doing much to bolster the proceedings and overarching groove.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Brooklyn heavy post-rock duo Spotlights made their full-length debut earlier this year on Crowquill Records with Tidals, an album that earned them a support slot on a summer tour for Deftones and Refused — because the ’90s — and considerable acclaim besides. I’ll actually have it in the next Quarterly Review, which will be kind of a stuff-I-should’ve-already-written-about wrap-up for 2016, hopefully at the end of next month, between Xmas and New Year’s. You know, when the rest of the universe is spending time with family and relaxing and deciding what promises they’re going to make to themselves and break in a month. Wow. Shit got dark quick there. Apologies. I’m sure we’ll all keep our promises.
Though some of us are still just catching up to it, Spotlights are moving past their first album already with a new EP titled Spiders that will be out Dec. 9. It’s got three tracks, an original, a Mew cover that’s streaming below, and a remix by Aaron Harris, formerly of Isis, and some blinding cover art. The PR wire sent info along for your perusal and mine.
And really, 2017’s gonna be a good year. I’d ask how much worse it could possibly get, but I think we all know the answer to that question.
SPOTLIGHTS: dream-rockers resurface with “Spiders” EP
Heavy dream-rockers Spotlights resurface with a new 3-song EP, Spiders, to be released December 9th.
The Brooklyn-based married couple made waves earlier this year with the release of debut full-length Tidals and a summer US tour supporting Deftones and Refused.
New EP Spiders consists of a reworking of an older Spotlights song, a cover of a song by Danish band Mew, and a remix of one of Tidals’ tracks, by former Isis drummer Aaron Harris.
December 9th, Spiders will be available directly from the band in the US, in digital and CD formats. Spiders and Tidals will both see a UK/European release via Plastic Head Distribution.
Tracklist: 1) A Box of Talking Heads 2) She Spider (Mew) 3) Joseph (Aaron Harris remix)
Spotlights is: Sarah Quintero – Bass/Guitar/Vocals Mario Quintero – Guitar/Synths/Vocals Josh Cooper – Drums (Live)
Given my druthers, I’d have had this up more than a week ago, but there was a bit of a crunch last week as you may have seen, so here we are. Better late than something something. The important thing is here’s about two hours’ worth of new music from psych to drone to sludge and if I do say so myself, it’s a pretty good mix of all of it. The first hour gets pretty driving by the time you get down to Gozu and Domadora before the big chill out with New Planet Trampoline, and though I’m always happy to include audio from improv specialists Øresund Space Collective, their “Ode to a Black Hole Pt. 1” might be their most tripped-out affair yet. Darker for sure, but way, way gone.
As always, the theme is simple — new music — and the goal is perhaps you’ll hear something you didn’t know before. The impact of Elephant Tree’s “Aphotic Blues” forced itself into the playlist, and I’ve been digging the hell out of new Goya, Telstar Sound Drone and Gozu releases, so they had to be here too. I hear some Floor in Spotlights, but there’s more to them than just that, which I think you can hear in “The Grower,” and that’s really just the start of what gets to be pretty expansive by the time it’s finished. Hope you enjoy.
Track details follow:
0:00:00 Curse the Son, “Sleepwalker Wakes” from Isolator
0:05:58 Valley of the Sun, “The Hunt” from Volume Rock
0:08:14 Spotlights, “The Grower” from Tidals
0:15:27 Dunbarrow, “The Crows Ain’t Far Behind” from Dunbarrow
0:18:47 Goya, “Last” from The Enemy
0:23:27 Sourvein, “Avian Dawn” from Aquatic Occult
0:26:54 Gozu, “Nature Boy” from Revival
0:30:01 Domadora, “Rocking Crash Hero” from The Violent Mystical Sukuma
0:34:40 New Planet Trampoline, “Acts of Mania” from Dark Rides and Grim Visions
0:43:26 Telstar Sound Drone, “Dead Spaces” from Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles
0:49:27 Samavayo, “Overrun” from Dakota
0:55:58 Elephant Tree, “Aphotic Blues” from Elephant Tree
1:01:53 Black Moon Circle, “Warp Speed” from Sea of Clouds
1:14:54 Jupiter, “In Flux” from Interstellar Chronodive
1:28:43 Øresund Space Collective, “Ode to a Black Hole Pt. I” from Ode to a Black Hole