Quarterly Review: Spotlights, War Cloud, Rubble Road, Monte Luna, High Reeper, Frozen Planet….1969, Zaius, Process of Guilt, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, Owlcrusher

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Day two of the Quarterly Review and feeling groovy so far. Managed to survive yesterday thanks in no small part to good music and good coffee, and looking at what’s coming up in today’s batch, I don’t expect the situation will be much different — though the styles will. I try to keep in mind as I put these weeks together to change up what’s in each round, so it’s not just all psych records, or all doom, or heavy rock or whatever else. This way I’m not burning myself out on anything particular and I hopefully don’t wind up saying the same things about albums that maybe only share vague genre aspects in common — riffs, etc. — in the same way. Essentially trying to trick my brain into being creative. Sometimes it even works. Let’s see how it fares today.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Spotlights, Seismic

spotlights seismic

After touring hard with the likes of Melvins, Deftones and Refused, heavy post-rockers Spotlights mark their first release on Ipecac Recordings with their second album, Seismic, which finds the core duo of Mario and Sarah Quintero working with producer Aaron Harris (Isis) to follow-up 2016’s Tidals with 65 minutes/11 tracks of weighted atmospherics and far-spanning melodic textures as shown on emotive heft-bringers like “Ghost of a Glowing Forest.” Heavygaze, I suppose, is the genre tag that’s emerged, but with the opening title-track, the chugging “Learn to Breathe” and the later percussive turns of “A Southern Death,” there’s as much focus on crush as on ambience, though as Seismic makes its way through the pair of eight-minute tracks “Hollow Bones” (wonder if they know the 30 Rock reference they’re making) and “Hang us All” before the minimal subdued drones and melodic effects swirls of closer “The Hope of a Storm,” Spotlights succeed in finding a middle ground that offers plenty of both. In its moments of intensity and its range, Seismic builds cohesion from ether and immediately benefits from the purposeful growth the Quinteros have clearly undertaken over the past year by hitting the road with the dedication they have.

Spotlights on Thee Facebooks

Ipecac Recordings website

 

War Cloud, War Cloud

war cloud war cloud

Bay Area rockers War Cloud don’t get too fancy on their self-titled debut, which they make via Ripple Music as the follow-up to their 2016 single Vulture City (discussed here), but as they prove quickly in the dual-guitar Thin Lizzyisms of opener “Give’r” and the later post-Motörhead/Peter Pan Speedrock careening of “Speed Demon,” neither do they necessarily need to. Comprised of guitarists Alex Wein (also vocals) and Tony Campos, bassist Sean Nishi and drummer Joaquin Ridgell, War Cloud offer 31 minutes of brisk, unpretentious asskickery, riffs trading channels at the outset of “Hurricane” as it makes ready to settle into its proto-thrashing rocker groove, and the mood of the release as a whole engaging as much through its reimagining 20-year-old Metallica as a heavy rock band there as on the more grandly riff-led “Divide and Conquer.” Structures are straightforward, and not one of the eight tracks tops five minutes, but they’re more than enough for War Cloud find their place between metal form and heavy rock tone, and cuts like “Chopper Wired” and brazenly charged closer “Vulture City” nail the core message of the band’s arrival.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Rubble Road, The Clowns Have Spoken

rubble-road-the-clowns-have-spoken

Rubble Road ain’t hurtin’ nobody. The Orlando-based double-guitar four-piece take two prior singles and put them together with four new tracks as their 29-minute/six-song debut EP, The Clowns Have Spoken, and thereby bring forth straightforward heavy rock that seems to be finding its personality in tone but nonetheless has a strong structural foundation underlying that holds up the material and “The Judge” tosses in a bit of metallic gallop to go with the forward-directed heavy rock proffered on the prior “Galactic Fugitives” and “Gospel (Get it Together).” I won’t say much for the politics of “Truck Stop Hooker,” which caps with the line, “Your mother gives great helmet, baby,” but “Wizard Staff” and “Do it Yourself” broaden the dynamic of the release overall. They’ve got some growing to do, but again, there’s an efficiency in their songwriting that comes through these songs, and as an initial showcase/demo, The Clowns Have Spoken shows Rubble Road with the potential to continue to grow.

Rubble Road on Thee Facebooks

Rubble Road on Bandcamp

 

Monte Luna, Monte Luna

monte luna monte lona

You might check out the self-titled debut from Austin, Texas, duo Monte Luna. You might even pick up the digipak or tape version. You might listen to extended tracks like “Nameless City” (12:53) and “6,000 Year March” (17:42) and be like, “Yeah, cool riffs dudes.” You might even then chase down the The Hound EP that guitarist/vocalist/bassist James Clarke and drummer/synthesist Phil Hook put out last year. At some point though, you’re going to put Monte Luna’s Monte Luna on your shelf and leave it there. Fair enough. However – and I’m not going to say when; could be sooner, could be later — then you’re going to find yourself remembering its massive, 71-minute sprawl of riffs, its doomed-out grooves, shouts, screams, growls and the way its builds become so utterly immersive, and you’re going to put Monte Luna on again. And that’s the moment when it will really hit you. It might take some time, and part of that is no doubt that there’s simply a lot of record to wade through, but whether it’s the rumbling start of “Nightmare Frontier” (14:26), the cacophonous stomp of “Inverted Mountain” (12:04) or the righteous crash of “The End of Beginning” (9:42), Monte Luna will have earned that deeper look, and if you allow them to make that deeper impression with their self-titled, they almost certainly will.

Monte Luna on Thee Facebooks

Monte Luna on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, High Reeper

high reeper high reeper

Newcomer five-piece High Reeper telegraph Sabbathian heavy rocker intent with their self-released, self-titled debut album. The Delaware-based lineup of Zach Thomas, Napz Mosley, Andrew Price, Pat Daly and Shane Trimble make no bones about their roots in opener “Die Slow,” and as the stoner-swinging “High Reeper,” the doom-swaggering “Reeper Deadly Reeper” and the yo-check-out-this-bassline nodder “Weed and Speed” play out in the record’s midsection, it seems increasingly likely that, sooner or later, some imprint or other will pick up High Reeper for a wider release. As the band demonstrates through the stomping “Soul Taker” and the seeming mission statement “Black Leather (Chose Us)” ahead of closer “Friend of Death,” which breaks its six minutes in half between Judas Priest thrust and an instrumental finish that calls to mind “Heaven and Hell,” they’ve got a keen ear for updating classic elements, and though formative, their first outing is cleverly memorable and an immediately resonant display of songcraft. Now we know High Reeper can engage these stylistic components — the test will be how they develop them into something individualized going forward.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

High Reeper on YouTube

 

Frozen Planet….1969, From the Centre of a Parallel Universe

Frozen-Planet-1969-From-the-Centre-of-a-Parallel-Universe

From the Centre of a Parallel Universe is the second long-player of 2017 from Sydney/Canberra’s Frozen Planet….1969. It arrives on CD through Pepper Shaker and LP via Headspin with five tracks/43 minutes of improv-style psych jams following suit from the prior Electric Smokehouse (review here) and helps to bring the band’s funk-infused, spacious dynamic all the more into focus. Also out of focus. Like, blurry vision-style. They range far and wide and keep the proceedings delightfully weird in the three extended pieces “Celestial Gambler,” “Through Hell’s Kaleidoscope, Parts I & II” and “Ancient Wings Taking Flight” – all north of 11 minutes – and with “Signals (Channelling…)” and “The Lady and the Archer” leading the way into each LP side, Frozen Planet….1969 take the time to assure they’re bringing their listeners along with them on their potent journey into the cosmically far out. The must-hear bass tone in “Ancient Wings Taking Flight” is but one of many reasons to dig in, but whatever it takes, From the Centre of a Parallel Universe’s invitation to get lost is not one to be missed.

Frozen Planet….1969 on Thee Facebooks

Pepper Shaker Records on Bandcamp

 

Zaius, Of Adoration

zaius of adoration

Chicago’s history with instrumentalist post-metal goes back as far as the notion of the subgenre itself with acts like Pelican and Russian Circles providing aesthetic-defining landmarks over the last 15-plus years even as a group like Bongripper embraces darker, more lumbering fare. The four-piece Zaius, who make their full-length debut with Of Adoration on Prosthetic Records after two self-released EPs in 2013 and 2011, position themselves more toward the shimmering airiness of the former rather than the latter’s raw lumber, but there’s heft to be found in the expanses of “Sheepdog” and “Seirenes” all the same, and the second half of “Echelon” and closer “Colin” tighten up some of the ethereality of pieces like opener “Phaneron” and the driftingly progressive “Reformer” or the penultimate, patient rollout of “Anicca” to hone a sense of balance that feels as emotionally driven as it is cerebral in its construction. Hard for a band like Zaius to stand themselves out at this point given the swath of acts working in a similar style in and out of the Windy City, but in its textural approach and held-steady flow, Of Adoration satisfies.

Zaius on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Process of Guilt, Black Earth

process-of-guilt-black-earth

Portuguese post-doomers Process of Guilt hit the 15-year mark with the release of their fourth album, Black Earth (on Division/Bleak Recordings), and with a mix by Brooklyn noise-rock specialist Andrew Schneider, a mastering job by Collin Jordan in Chicago and striking cover art by growler/guitarist Hugo Santos with images by Pedro Almeida, the sense of atmosphere is thick and the mood is aggressive throughout. Santos, along with guitarist Nuno David, bassist Custódio Rato and drummer Gonçalo Correia chug and flow through a linear 42 minutes and five tracks on the suitably darkened offering, touching on progressive nuance but not letting cerebral underpinnings take away from the onslaught feel of “Feral Ground” or the tension mounted early in the 11-minute penultimate title-track, which uses feedback as a weapon throughout no less capably than the subsequent closer “Hoax” affects immediately with its nodding tonal wash. Taken as a whole, Black Earth finds Process of Guilt exploring depths of their sound as much as with it, and the directions they go feel as much inward as out.

Process of Guilt on Thee Facebooks

Division Records website

Bleak Recordings website

 

Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk

Sundus-Abdulghani-Trunk-self-titled

The challenge for an outfit like Stockholm’s Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, whose self-titled debut arrives via respected purveyor Kozmik Artifactz, lies separating themselves from the shadow of fellow Swedes Blues Pills, whose semi-psych heavy-blues-rocking first album has cast a wide influence that can be heard here as well as in any number of other bands currently kicking around the Euro underground proffering as balance of soul and heavy rock as songs like “It Ain’t Love (But Close Enough)” and “Like Water” do here. Where Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk most succeed in doing this is in the harmonies of “Black Magic Man,” which brings to mind classic acid folk while holding to a heavy blues vibe, but there are other moments throughout when individuality flourishes as well. The attitude is laid on a bit thick in “Them Dames,” but the hooks of “Sister Sorrow,” “She Knows,” “The Devil’s Got a Hold on You” and “Stay” and the burgeoning sense of arrangements complementing Abdulghani’s vocals do well in helping cast an identity one hopes will continue to develop.

Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Owlcrusher, Owlcrusher

owlcrusher owlcrusher

Conceived by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Spiers, bassist/vocalist Steve Hobson and drummer Damien McKeown, Banbridge trio Owlcrusher conjure three extended, slicing slabs of black-singed sludge extremity on their self-titled Seeing Red Records debut, and it’s enough to make one wonder just what the fuck is going on in Northern Ireland to inspire such outright bleakness. Beginning with the 16-minute “Feeble Preacher” (also the longest inclusion here; immediate points), Owlcrusher’s Owlcrusher lumbers excruciatingly forth with screams and growls cutting through a tonality geared for max-volume consumption, though it remains to be seen who is consuming whom as “Feeble Preacher” gives way to the likewise scorched eponymous “Owlcrusher” (11:30) and 15-minute closer “Spoiler,” the last of which brings the only real moment of letup on the album after about nine minutes in, and even that takes the form of an interlude of Khanate-style minimalist ambience before the rolling megacrush resumes and plods to a somehow-even-heavier finish. Clearly a band pushing themselves toward the superlative, Owlcrusher get there much faster than their crawling tones would have you believe. Madness.

Owlcrusher on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

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Here are 40+ New Releases to Look for in the Next Three Weeks

Posted in Features on September 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Starting tomorrow, the next three weeks are absolutely stupid with new albums. Over-the-top, ridiculous. An immediately-go-broke amount of music. Nothing less than an onslaught. We’re under attack.

Far be it from me to tell you how to spend your money — also far be it from me not to — but there’s some really killer stuff in here. As to why it’s all landing now? Some of it of course has to do with the timing of when it was recorded, bands hitting the studio in Spring before heading out on the road over the summer, but Fall releases also line up nicely for tours in October and November, heading into the holiday season, when the music industry basically shuts down. This is the last chance for releases to come out in 2017 and be considered for best-of-year lists.

I doubt the likes of Chelsea Wolfe or Godspeed You! Black Emperor or even Kadavar would cop to that as a motivating factor, instead pointing to the timing of Fall touring and so on, but these things are rarely coincidental. You know how there aren’t any blockbusters in January but every movie feels like it’s trying to win an Oscar? Same kind of deal.

Nonetheless, 2017 is laying it on particularly thick these next couple weeks, and as you can see in the lists below, if you’ve got cash to spend, you can pretty much choose your rock and roll adventure. I’ll add to this as need be as well, so keep an eye for changes:

Sept. 22:

Alcest, Souveinirs d’un Autre Monde (10th Anniversary Edition)
Brant Bjork, Europe ’16
Chelsea Wolfe, Hiss Spunthe-flying-eyes-burning-of-the-season
Epitaph, Claws
Faces of the Bog, Ego Death
The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season
Fvzz Popvli, Fvzz Dei
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Luciferian Towers
Jarboe & Father Murphy, Jarboe & Father Murphy
Monarch, Never Forever
Nibiru, Qaal Babalon
Process of Guilt, Black Earth
Satyricon, Deep Calleth Upon Deep
Spelljammer, Inches from the Sun (Reissue)
Thonian Horde, Inconnu
Trash Titan, Welcome to the Banana Party
Ufomammut, 8
With the Dead, Love from With the Dead
Wolves in the Throne Room, Thrice Woven

Sept. 29:

monolord rust
Cities of Mars, Temporal Rifts
Deadsmoke, Mountain Legacy
A Devil’s Din, One Hallucination Under God
Disastroid, Missiles
Jim Healey, Just a Minute More (Sept. 26)
Idylls, The Barn
Kadavar, Rough Times
Lucifer’s Chalice, The Pact
Monolord, Rust
Outsideinside, Sniff a Hot Rock
Radio Moscow, New Beginnings
Scream of the Butterfly, Ignition
Tronald, Tronald (Sept. 30)
Unsane, Sterilize
Wucan, Reap the Storm

Oct. 6:

fireball-ministry-remember-the-storyElder Druid, Carmina Satanae
Fireball Ministry, Remember the Story
Frank Sabbath, Are You Waiting? (Oct. 2)
Himmellegeme, Myth of Earth
House of Broken Promises, Twisted EP
O.R.B., Naturality
Primitive Man, Caustic
Spirit Adrift, Curse of Conception
Spotlights, Seismic
Sumokem, The Guardian of Yosemite
Torso, Limbs
White Manna, Bleeding Eyes

Also:

Oct. 13: Enslaved, Firebreather, I Klatus, R.I.P., Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (reissue), Weird Owl, etc.

Oct. 20: Iron Monkey, Spectral Haze, Bell Witch, The Spacelords, etc.

Something I forgot?

Invariably, right? If you know of something not seen above that should be, then by all means, please leave a comment letting me know. My only ask is that you keep it civil and not call me a fucking idiot or anything like that. I write these posts very early in the day, and if something has been neglected, I assure you it’s not on purpose and I’m happy to correct any and all oversights.

Thanks for reading and happy shopping. Support local record stores.

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Spotlights Release Seismic Oct. 6; New Song Streaming; Touring with the Melvins

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

spotlights

As massive as the response has been to Brooklyn post-heavy rockers Spotlights, it’s not like the band aren’t putting their work in. To wit, take a gander at the list of tour dates for which the NYCers are accompanying the Melvins — the tour began July 5 — and tremble as they no doubt are with concern as to when they’ll next be able to do laundry. An Oct. 6 release through Ipecac Recordings has been set for their second album, Seismic, and as they herald its arrival on stages across North America — can Europe be far off? — basically from now until release day, they’re also marking the beginning of preorders by streaming the new track “Learn to Breathe.” Let’s hope they do.

From the PR wire:

spotlights seismic

SPOTLIGHTS RELEASE NEW ALBUM, SEISMIC, ON OCT. 6 VIA IPECAC RECORDINGS

TOUR WITH THE MELVINS THIS SUMMER

PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW
http://smarturl.it/Spotlights

Spotlights, the Brooklyn-based husband and wife outfit of Mario and Sarah Quintero, release their Ipecac Recordings’ debut, Seismic, on Oct. 6.

“Seismic came out of a reaction to the current state of humanity and the inevitable consequences we will have on this earth and ourselves,” explains Mario. “There’s an odd sense of beauty that comes with destruction, and we tried to capture that musically on this album.” Seismic was produced by Aaron Harris (Isis/Palms) and recorded this spring in Los Angeles. Pre-orders for the 11-track album are available now: (http://smarturl.it/Spotlights).

Spotlights’ previous release, Tidals, earned the band a wide sweep of accolades. The word-of-mouth about the intoxicating album led to the band being handpicked to join Deftones and Refused for their Summer 2016 tour.

The pair, who primarily tour as a three-piece, will join the Melvins for an extensive, 12-week North American tour, launching this evening at the Casbah in San Diego. The full routing is listed below.

Seismic track listing:
1. Seismic
2. Learn To Breathe
3. The Size of the Planet
4. Ghost of a Glowing Forest
5. Under the Earth
6. A Southern Death
7. The Opening
8. What Is This, Where Are We
9. Hollow Bones
10. Hang Us All
11. The Hope of a Storm

Tour dates (all dates with the Melvins):
July 13 Seattle, WA The Showbox
July 14 Vancouver, BC Venue Nightclub
July 17 Edmonton, AB Union Hall
July 18 Calgary, AB The Marquee
July 19 Regina, SK The Exchange *
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 7 Harrisburg, VA The Golden Pony *
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 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, AZ 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 only

www.facebook.com/spotlightsband
www.twitter.com/spotlightsband
www.spotlights.bandcamp.com
www.instagram.com/spotlightsband
ipecac.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ipecac/
https://ipecacrecordings.bandcamp.com/

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The Melvins Announce Three Months of North American Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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

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.

facebook.com/melvinsarmy
twitter.com/melvinsdotcom
instagram.com/melvinsdotcom

facebook.com/spotlightsband
twitter.com/spotlightsband
instagram.com/spotlightsband

ipecac.com
facebook.com/ipecac
instagram.com/ipecacrecordings

Melvins, A Walk with Love and Death album trailer

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Spotlights Sign to Ipecac Recordings; New Album Due this Fall

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

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 brian berson photo

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.

www.facebook.com/spotlightsband
www.twitter.com/spotlightsband
www.spotlights.bandcamp.com
www.instagram.com/spotlightsband
ipecac.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ipecac/
https://ipecacrecordings.bandcamp.com/

Spotlights, Spiders EP (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Hornss, Khemmis, Fox 45, Monolith Wielder, No Man’s Valley, Saturna, Spotlights, MØLK, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Moon Coven

Posted in Reviews on December 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

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:

Hornss, Telepath

hornss telepath

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.

Hornss on Thee Facebooks

STB Records store

 

Khemmis, Hunted

khemmis hunted

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.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin on Bandcamp

 

Fox 45, Ashes of Man

fox 45 ashes of man

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.

Fox 45 on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Monolith Wielder, Monolith Wielder

monolith wielder self titled

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.

Monolith Wielder on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

No Man’s Valley, Time Travel

no man's valley time travel

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.

No Man’s Valley on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

Saturna, III/Lost in Time

saturna lost in time

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.

Saturna on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound website

 

MØLK, Hate from the Bong

molk hate from the bong

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.

MØLK on Thee Facebooks

MØLK on Bandcamp

 

Psychedelic Witchcraft, The Vision

psychedelic witchcraft the vision

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.

Psychedelic Witchcraft on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records website

 

Spotlights, Spiders EP

spotlights spiders

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.

Spotlights on Thee Facebooks

Spotlights on Bandcamp

 

Moon Coven, Moon Coven

moon coven self-titled

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.

Moon Coven on Thee Facebooks

Transubstans Records

 

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Spotlights Announce Spiders EP Due Dec. 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

spotlights

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.

Here goes:

spotlights-spiders

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)

https://www.facebook.com/spotlightsband
https://twitter.com/Spotlightsband
http://spotlights.bandcamp.com/
http://crowquillrecords.com/

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audiObelisk Transmission 057

Posted in Podcasts on April 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

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:

First Hour:

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

Second Hour:

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

Total running time: 1:54:43

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 057

 

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