Feature: King Buffalo Interview… Me…?

Posted in Features on October 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo

Before we get to anything else, I want to say this: I am really, really, really uncomfortable with this whole idea.

I mean it. I’ve been kicking myself in the ass since it was brought up. King Buffalo are about to putout their second full-length, Longing to Be the Mountain (review here), on Oct. 12, and the record’s just great. 2018 has produced a glut of fascinating, exciting and kickass albums, but especially when it comes to potential lasting appeal, I’ll put King Buffalo up against any of them, including Sleep. Big words, I know, but I’m serious. At this point, I’ve been doing this long enough to know when a release is going to stick.

So it’s kind of a big deal. I didn’t get to do a track premiere for Longing to Be the Mountain or the album stream, which I assume will be on some cooler site with a wider reach next week. Okay. That happens to me all the time, and the truth is, King Buffalo neither owe me anything nor are exactly an unknown quantity around these parts. If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you might recall their early-2018 EP Repeater had a track stream with the review, and I hosted the premiere of their debut LP, Orion, when that came out in 2016. I’ve also covered them in live reviews, their 2016 digital live release Live at Wicked Squid Studios (review here), their 2015 split LP with Lé Betre (review here) and their 2014 demo (review here), and it goes back further than that if I felt like searching out more links. But I think I’ve made the point. In terms of reaching an audience, King Buffalo have “done” The Obelisk. They’re a known quantity, and with a record like Longing to Be the Mountain, which has the potential to catch ears not already familiar with the band, it deserves as much of a chance as possible to do that.

This interview, where drummer Scott Donaldson asks me questions and I answer instead of how it should be, which is the other way around, was not my idea. It wasn’t. Please know that. It was pitched to me and I was hemming and hawing on it until I spoke to my wonderful and brilliant wife, The Patient Mrs., and she told me in her sweet, diplomatic way to get over myself and do it. I did the latter, obviously not the former, and I still feel a little bit like my fragile writerly ego is being placated for the stream I didn’t get to do. I don’t deserve to be interviewed — least of all on this site! Jesus. It feels so self-indulgent. I’ve had a couple rare occasions where I’ve been fortunate enough to have someone want to talk to me about what I do, and that’s always massively appreciated, because absolutely, I’ll run my mouth (or at least my fingers on the keyboard) if you’ll let me. But to have to then post it myself? Oof.

That’s a bummer way to start a piece that’s actually pretty fun, with silly questions and silly answers and whatnot, but all I can do is be honest about where I’m coming from, and even after I did the interview and sent it back, the thought of putting it up on my own, here, has continued to feel weird and self-indulgent. They call me “important.” Cringe.

So I’ll throw The Patient Mrs. under the bus. It was her idea.

Thanks for reading. Here’s the Q&A, which I titled myself:

jj obelisk

Longing to Be Relevant: A Wrong-Sided Conversation with King Buffalo

So in an exciting twist, I (Scott from King Buffalo) have the privilege to interview one of the most important gentleman in the entire stoner, psych, and doom etc. community, Mr. Obelisk himself, JJ Koczan. If you don’t know JJ, then you’ve probably been listening to your Spice Girls cassette on repeat and should stop reading now. For everyone else, on to the interview……..

Besides “The Pecan,” what do you view as your greatest achievement?

The truest answer I can give you is my relationship with my wife. We’ve been together since I was 15 years old. It’ll be 21 years in about a week as I write this, and I’m so incredibly lucky to have her in my life. Through high school and college and into professional life, through grad school — which for her was about a decade-long process — and beyond, she’s this amazing, brilliant, beautiful person and she’s absolutely the core around which the rest of my existence revolves. To see her in a new way this past year as she’s become a mother to The Pecan has been even more astounding, but there was never a doubt in my mind she’d nail it, because that’s what she does. She’s kind and sincere, far more patient with me than I deserve, and she says things like, “I think you should go to Norway,” which is about as much as I could ever ask of a partner in life.

More to the point I think of what you’re asking, probably best of all as relates to The Obelisk is the fact that people tell me words I’ve written have mattered to them. Usually that’s in the form of, “Hey dude I found such and such band on your site thanks!” and I really dig that and feel incredibly fortunate for it, but every now and then someone actually says something about the writing itself and that means a lot to me because such a big part of that project is that the voice it all comes from is my voice. I’m writing like I speak. I interrupt myself all the time. I jump from thought to thought. I have run-on sentences. I think in repetitive lists, etc. When that touches somebody and they feel strongly enough about it to let me know, whether it’s an email or a note on social media or coming up to me at a show, that’s a pretty astounding feeling.

If you could go on tour with one band, during any time period, dead or alive, who would you choose?

I’ll give you two that could’ve actually happened. I had a chance to tour Australia and New Zealand with Kings Destroy and Radio Moscow a couple years ago and I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have the money. It’s someplace I’ve always dreamed of going and the KD guys are good friends and I’ve been on the road with them and Radio Moscow before, so it’s all a familiar group to be with, and I just couldn’t get the cash together for a flight. I’ve never made much money, and I have no savings or anything like that, so it just wasn’t an option. They got to meet the cats from Beastwars and to see Arc of Ascent — I’m a huge fan of Craig Williamson (also of Lamp of the Universe and Datura), so that would’ve been amazing — but it just didn’t happen. My understanding from the guys afterward was it was a pretty rough tour, but I still regret it. A lot. Just to go there, in that context.

A year or two later, there was a chance The Patient Mrs. was going to get a grant to go to Australia and do research — she’s a college professor — and it looked like a lock. I got in touch with the guys from Hotel Wrecking City Traders and they put together like this whole festival thing in Melbourne that I presented because I was going to be there and everything, and again, the trip fell through. I missed that show. It was put on because I was coming and I didn’t make it. Still stings.

When Lo-Pan played Roadburn a few years ago and they had Adrian Zambrano on guitar, there was some talk about me joining them on the road for a week or two in Europe after. I could hardly think of a more righteous opportunity, but again, money. That’s the reason I haven’t been to Desertfest in a half-decade, it’s the reason I missed SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal and Freak Valley in Germany this year, both of which I was invited to — see also: baby — but yeah. I don’t make any money from The Obelisk and it’s times like that where it really hits home.

What’s the worst band name you’ve ever heard?

Any of them that I’ve forgotten. There are a lot of generic stoner-band names out there, but I actually don’t mind that, because it’s part of a whole aesthetic. It’s like fuzz riffs, or kind of slower rolling grooves. It’s part of the thing. There are a couple shitty names out there — I got called a “whinny liberal” (sic) on Instagram once for saying Black Pussy was a shitty name. Since then, I’ve wanted to start a band called Whinny Liberal, but am restrained, as ever, by lack of both talent and time.

Marry, Fuck, Kill – Lemmy, David Bowie, Prince and why?

Fuck Prince. Obviously. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Plus he was like a Seventh Day Adventist or something, so he was probably a total freak in bed. Isn’t that how it always goes with fundamentalists? They don’t celebrate Xmas, but they’ll break out the sex-swing and make a holiday of any occasion?

Marry Bowie. If you’re getting married, you want stability, and Bowie and Iman stood the test of time.

Kill Lemmy. HOWEVER. After you kill him, you take his brain and put it in a cyborg Lemmy so he can live forever and still never quite reach the microphone on stage. Who keeps making those things so tall?

Who’s the most underrated singer / lyricist of all time?

Paul McCartney. He’s also the most overrated.

You’ve been tied to the railroad tracks by Boris Badenov, and there’s a train hurtling towards you. You’re surrounded by your music collection, and you’re able to break loose, but only have time to save 5 albums. What albums do you save?

I would certainly hope to be saved by Moose and Squirrel before the train hits, but if we’re talking my collection, I’d take mostly stuff that was gifts. I’ve got a signed Enslaved CD that was sent to me by Nuclear Blast because they weren’t getting a lot of press in the States at the time. That has sentimental value. I’ve got a bunch of Sabbath and Beatles bootlegs and a couple Type O Negative bootlegs that I bought decades ago that I’d save. I’d save the copy of Saint Vitus’ Lillie: F-65 that Season of Mist used my quote on the front-sticker for, I’d save whatever of the Man’s Ruin Records stuff I could grab, and I’d save the original copy of Alice in Chains’ Dirt I swiped from my older sister when I was like 10. I don’t know if that’s five or 50, but it’s some of the stuff I have that has value to me beyond whatever cash I may have paid for it.

Why do people say “cheese” before being photographed?

Traditionally I think because to say “cheese” stretches out the sides of the mouth and provides a natural smile. It’s not true, though. In my experience — and this may just be my own bitchy resting face — saying cheese draws the sides of the mouth downward, so you’re not smiling for the camera, you’re just looking like you’re having your face pulled. But who the hell smiles for a camera anyway when you can make a weird face or just be metal and scowl. That’s probably my preference.

A monkey is shot into space and comes back to earth with all the knowledge of the cosmos. He will only talk to you, and will allow you to ask one question. What is it?

Why bother? Fuck that selfish monkey. He should probably get a press conference together and start unraveling the mysteries of the universe to everyone instead of one question to my ass. You know what my one question would be? “Why are you such a prick that you’re unwilling to share this vast knowledge you’ve acquired?” Monkey should be too busy in a lab somewhere curing cancer and on the fucking senate floor saving democracy from imperial populism to answer my shitty question in the first place. “Hey monkey, how ‘bout those riffs, huh?”

A lot of websites, blogs, magazines and livejournals have come and gone since The Obelisk’s inception. What drives you to be able to continue on this journey?

Compulsion. I need it so much more than anyone else needs it that it’s laughable. I started The Obelisk after the magazine I worked for went under and I wanted to keep my contacts and I still had a stack of stuff to review and nowhere to put it. So my buddy Slevin put together a WordPress for me and I stumbled through learning how to use it. Since then, it’s consumed such a major portion of my identity that I don’t know what I’d do without it. I’m “JJ from The Obelisk” for so much of my day. At this point, it’s what I schedule my life around. I wake up at two or three in the morning to write before the baby gets up so I can get work in before I have to go be daddy, and if I don’t, I’m out of my mind the entire day. I have a very, very compulsive personality. It makes me a complete asshole in many situations, but it means that when I do something like this, I do it all the way. I’m dedicated to developing a critical aesthetic and all that, and I believe strongly in the music and whatever role I play in talking about it as I do, but the simple truth is I need it. It’s been long enough and it’s a big enough part of my life that I can’t really be who I am without it.

If you could form a supergroup out of any musicians from the past and present, who would you pick?

Nah, you never really know how a supergroup is going to work out, and I feel like if you pick a band with “stars” from other bands, often it’s ego-driven and kind of falls flat. I’ll just take my Shrinebuilder record and the Munchen Sessions from when Los Natas jammed with Stefan Koglek from Colour Haze and be happy with that.

Crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

Fun fact about me: I love peanut butter. You nailed this question. Peanut butter anything — I’m in. It’s the fastest way to my heart. These days I grind my own from dry roasted, unsalted peanuts — because I want to taste peanuts, not salt — and I usually stop the food processor before it’s all the way smoothed out. It’s not “crunchy” like in the Jif or Skippy sense, where there’s like half a nut just mysteriously inserted into otherwise smooth peanut butter, but if I can get it to where it’s got a bit of texture and still get the good oils out from the peanuts and bring out that flavor, I’m happy. I also recently started grinding almond butter as an alternative. Different process, takes longer, but also yields satisfying results.

You’re the smartest man alive, you’ve just built a machine that can travel through time and teleport you to any destination. Where do you go, and why?

I’d travel to a dimension outside of conventional hours and give myself more time to write

Then I’d go back to when I was like 15 and tell myself to go see Kyuss and White Zombie on tour together. And Sleep whenever.

Lastly, if you had to describe how awesome King Buffalo is in one word, what word would you choose?

As regards your new album, “breakthrough” is the single word that most comes to mind, but I think generally the forward step you’ve taken has been to make your sound more your own while also developing your songwriting, upping the level of presentation via production, and generally showcasing the lessons you’ve learned both from Orion and from the touring you’ve done since that record came out. These are some of the things I think can be most admirable from a band going from one LP to a follow-up. I knew you guys were onto something the first time I heard the demo, but Longing to Be the Mountain is a special album. You should be proud of it.

In all seriousness though, thank you so much for all you do JJ. Most outlets overlook upcoming bands. It’s because of your ears and fingers that I’ve been turned on to a lot of great music. I look forward to seeing who you find next. –Scott (The guy that hits stuff in KB)

In all seriousness, Scott, this feels weird and I’m not entirely comfortable talking about myself in this way on this site. It feels like a total ego trip and I’m not into it. But I’m doing it because it’s you, and because it’s King Buffalo and because when I told The Patient Mrs. about it and said I probably wasn’t going to do it, she said I should.

Alright, the baby’s waking up. I gotta go. Thanks for taking the time.

King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain (2018)

King Buffalo, “Quickening” official video

King Buffalo BigCartel store

King Buffalo website

King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks

King Buffalo on Twitter

King Buffalo on Instagram

Stickman Records website

Stickman Records on Thee Facebooks

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King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain: Storm with Eyes

Posted in Reviews on September 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo longing to be the mountain

From the echoing sounds of birds that begin ‘Morning Song’ to the final drifting guitar lines of ‘Eye of the Storm,’ King Buffalo‘s Longing to be the Mountain is nothing less than a band taking their approach to a new level. The Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson teased this progression earlier this year with the Repeater EP (review here) and its sprawling title-track, but even that 13-minute opus didn’t quite give away the full reach of the second long-player to come. Now some five years removed from their 2013 demo (review here) and having also released a split with the defunct Lé Betre (review here) in 2015, the three-piece follow-up 2016’s Orion (review here), which was the best debut released that year, by taking a progressive step forward in songwriting and performance.

Longing to be the Mountain benefits from the time King Buffalo spent on tour not only in consideration of these factors, but in its very makeup — it was recorded with All Them Witches guitarist Ben McLeod producing (Grant Husselman engineered, McVay mixed, Bernie Matthews mastered), with whom King Buffalo have toured more than once, and its cover art is by Adrian Dexter, who is also known for his work with Elder, with whom King Buffalo are Euro-labelmates on Stickman Records as well as former tourmates. Even before one hits play and McVay‘s bluesy guitar sleeks its way into “Morning Song,” the value of experience shows itself, and in the graceful patience of the 10-minute opener, with McLeod‘s acoustic and McVay‘s electric layers intertwining, there’s a sense of serenity at the beginning of the six-song/42-minute journey that seems to last much longer in the best way possible, even as Reynolds adds further heft to the melody and Donaldson‘s bouncing hi-hat assures there’s a sense of motion to underscore all the methodical heavy psychedelia surrounding. It is a dynamic the first album more than teased, but which King Buffalo now deliver with earned confidence, and along with the memorable craft they show throughout the shorter, post-opening salvo of “Sun Shivers,” “Cosmonaut” and “Quickening,” and the breadth in the final pair of the title-track and the aforementioned “Eye of the Storm,” both of which also top 10 minutes in length, that chemistry between the three of them helps to make Longing to be the Mountain one of the best albums of 2018.

Each of the three longer-form cuts — that is, “Morning Song,” “Longing to be the Mountain” and “Eye of the Storm” — makes its way to a rousing payoff, but there are distinctions nonetheless in the personalities among them. “Morning Song” makes the turn somewhat drastically, with the guitars and drums dropping out to let Reynolds present the nodding groove on his own before the full band returns to surge forward. The title-track moves from its synth beginnings through a build of proggy noodling into a sort of pre-apex midsection before receding and pushing forth again in its eighth minute, while “Eye of the Storm” begins with immediate motion thanks to Donaldson‘s drumming and maintains that active feel through crunchier riffing in the first half that carries through a heavier jam into a final build and then the payoff that pulls back to let the album quietly make its way out led by the gotta-hear-it bassline. These subtle differences in structure belie the superficiality of Longing to be the Mountain having two modes of working — i.e. longer and shorter songs — and make it plain that the band are engaged not in the execution of one formula or another, but the exploration of varied ideas and modes of expression.

king buffalo (Photo by Mike Turzanski)

McVay‘s emergence as a frontman is notable for the performance he gives on guitar and vocals throughout, conveying emotion and poise alike on “Morning Song” and being no less at home riding the cascading riff of the subsequent “Sun Shivers” or giving a human presence to the psychedelic wash late in “Cosmonaut,” but the truth is Donaldson and Reynolds are no less crucial to the impact of the material, and even McLeod‘s acoustic guitar seems essential in “Cosmonaut” for providing an earthy underpinning to all of McVay‘s ethereal, floating tone. As the psych-via-grunge of that track gives way to “Quickening,” the band showcase a proggier style of composition, with a tense line of guitar and a resultant fluidity that comes across as something of an answer to All Them Witches‘ “Alabaster,” and give an especially hypnotic push en route to the album’s best stretch of lead guitar, singing out with a heightening melodic awareness and adding to the overarching impression of creative growth at hand. It’s quick perhaps in comparison to some of the stretches to come in the title-track and “Eye of the Storm,” but not at all to be discounted for its depth of songwriting. Again, a new level for King Buffalo.

And they back it up with two songs that, together, comprise nearly half the runtime of the album as a whole. “Longing to be the Mountain” makes a hook of the titular lyric, and expands the ideology of “Quickening” with an underlying rumble and spacious synth/keyboard added to not only provide an introduction, but to flesh out the dual-layer post-midpoint solo just ahead of a stop from which the band — McLeod included — pivot to the rhythm that will carry them through the crescendo and out, via fading feedback, to the more active start of “Eye of the Storm.” Its title delivered in the first verse, the closer feels more immediate, but with hints of vocal harmony from McVay and a gradual movement from one part to the next, there’s still an element of the patience of “Morning Song” and “Longing to be the Mountain” at work.

The double-payoff keeps it from being simply an afterthought following the title-track, and perhaps telling, the jam at the end — again, Reynolds‘ bass; yes — sounds more or less like it could keep going rather than wander into its fadeout as it does. I’m not sure I’d say that’s an intentional message saying there’s more to come, but it gets the point across either way that the evolution they’ve undertaken as a unit isn’t necessarily finished, and like Orion before it, Longing to be the Mountain is both a significant achievement on its own and a herald of what may yet be in store from King Buffalo. Whatever the future brings, for the smoothness of its flow between varied songs marked out by choice performances, for its deep-running sound and resonance of tone and emotionalism, and for the obvious heart that’s been poured into every second of its making, Longing to be the Mountain is a search that seems to find that what it’s looking for was there all along. It is a record that feels like home.

King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain (2018)

King Buffalo, “Quickening” official video

King Buffalo BigCartel store

King Buffalo website

King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks

King Buffalo on Twitter

King Buffalo on Instagram

Stickman Records website

Stickman Records on Thee Facebooks

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King Buffalo Announce Oct./Nov. Touring; Post “Quickening” Video

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Well, King Buffalo are currently wrapping up their pre-release tour for the upcoming Longing to be the Mountain, which they’ll release Oct. 12 on their own in the US and through Stickman Records in Europe, so I guess the only thing left to do is announce the dates for the post-release tour. That will start Oct. 27 in Montreal and run through the first couple weeks-plus of November. They haven’t yet announced plans to head to Europe in support of the new record, but I’d expect that to follow not too long behind, maybe early 2019 or so.

And if you want to hear a particular example of the sonic progression between Longing to be the Mountain and its 2016 predecessor, Orion (review here), take a listen to the solo late in “Quickening,” the video for which is posted at the bottom here. The level of melodic engagement from guitarist Sean McVay, not to mention the confidence in his vocals, is an absolute standout on the record. And the record, as well, is an absolute standout among 2018’s releases. I’ll have a review up sometime in the next couple weeks.

Here are the dates from the PR wire:

king buffalo (Photo by Mike Turzanski)

KING BUFFALO: psych-rockers premiere “Quickening” video, announce 2nd leg of North American tour

New King Buffalo track “Quickening” has made its debut today, in the form of an animated video.

The song appears on the Rochester, New York trio’s sophomore album Longing to Be the Mountain, out October 12th (self-released in the US, Stickman Records in Europe.)

Longing to Be the Mountain is a feast of haunting vocals, hypnotic grooves, mounting tension and explosive finalés, earning more than a few comparisons to Pink Floyd. It was produced by All Them Witches guitarist Ben McLeod.

Pre-order the album (vinyl and digital):
http://kingbuffalo.com/

The band is currently on tour in North America and has revealed a second leg of North American tourdates, kicking off October 27th in Montreal:

Sep 12 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
Sep 13 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
Sep 15 – Toronto, ON @ Bovine Sex Club

Oct 27 – Montreal, QC @ Montreal Zombie Walk
Nov 1 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
Nov 2 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
Nov 3 – Fawn Grove, PA @ South County Brewing Co.
Nov 4 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
Nov 5 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle Back Room
Nov 6 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Nov 7 – New Orleans, LA @ Santos Bar
Nov 8 – Houston, TX @ Rudyard’s
Nov 9 – Austin, TX @ Hotel Vegas
Nov 10 – Fort Worth, TX @ Lola’s Saloon Sixth
Nov 12 – Nashville, TN @ The End
Nov 13 – Indianapolis, IN @ White Rabbit Cabaret
Nov 14 – Louisville, KY @ Jimmy Can’t Dance
Nov 15 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
Nov 16 – Detroit, MI @ PJ’s Lager House
Nov 17 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern

Lineup:
Sean McVay – vocals, guitar, synth
Dan Reynolds – bass, synth
Scott Donaldson – drums

kingbuffalo.com
facebook.com/kingbuffaloband
instagram.com/kingbuffaloband
twitter.com/kingbuffaloband
kingbuffalo.bandcamp.com

King Buffalo, “Quickening” official video

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The Devil and the Almighty Blues Touring Next Month; Playing Desertfest Belgium 2018 & Keep it Low

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Norwegian heavy blues rockers The Devil and the Almighty Blues have been out a couple times already this year supporting their 2017 album, II (review here), stopping fests like Stoned from the Underground and Red Smoke in July with Elephant Tree and hitting the road before that in May for a round of successful club dates with South Africa’s Ruff Majik. They were previously announced for Keep it Low in Munich and Desertfest Belgium in Antwerp, and as those fests run on consecutive weekends it seemed only reasonable to expect they’d connect them with shows between. Well, they have.

In fact, they’ll be out even before they land at Desertfest, starting off with a gig Oct. 11 with Texas fuzz magnates Wo Fat and picking up from there with a couple shows in France. It’s a nine-show run altogether, and presented by Sound of Liberation, but there are still two shows to be announced. They’re both right after the fest appearances, so I’d have to think there are other acts touring around they could probably jump on with. Having had the pleasure of watching The Devil and the Almighty Blues at Roadburn 2017 (review here), I’ll say that their recorded output, while excellent, only begins to tell the story of the presence they bring to the stage. Worth seeing if you can see them.

Sound of Liberation announced the tour thusly:

the devil and the almighty blues tour

Guys, we’re glad to tell you that The Devil And The Almighty Blues will be hitting the roads again in October, playing in some countries they couldn’t visit last May (Belgium, England, France). Do not miss them!

11.10.18 (UK) London | Underworld (with Wo Fat)
12.10.18 (FR) Paris | Olympic Café
13.10.18 (FR) Clermont-Ferrand | Raymond Bar
14.10.18 (BE) Antwerp | Desertfest Belgium
16.10.18 TBC
17.10.18 (DE) Hagen | Kultopia
18.10.18 (DE) Nürnberg | MUZ
19.10.18 (DE) Munich | Keep It Low Festival
20.10.18 TBC

The Deivl and the Almight Blues is:
Arnt Andersen
Petter Svee
Kenneth Simonsen
Torgeir Waldemar Engen
Kim Skaug

https://www.facebook.com/thedevilandthealmightyblues/
https://thedevilandthealmightyblues.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BLUES-FOR-THE-RED-SUN-645295312258485/
https://www.stickman-records.com/

The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II (2018)

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Weedpecker Announce Oct. German Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

weedpecker

On Oct. 20, Polish progressive heavy psych rockers Weedpecker will make an appearance for the second night Setalight Fest 2018, the lineup for which also boasts Sasquatch, Beehoover, Weedruid, The Great Machine, Sativa Root, My Home on Trees and many more. That’s good company to keep, and for Weedpecker it will serve as the culmination of a string of dates alongside Gaffa Ghandi (also playing the festival) in support of their third album overall and first for Stickman Records, the aptly-titled III (discussed here).

That record has only grown in its appeal since its release in the early hours of 2018, its combination of heavy psychedelia and dreamy progressive rock lush in its arrangements and taking influence from the likes of labelmates Elder while adding personality of its own to the mix. Its extended tracks flow easily and immersively, and the hypnosis is one not conjured by boredom but by the depth of the engagement. Cool album? Cool album. Good band.

The tour’s all-Germany, so if you’re elsewhere you’ll have to wait until next time, but the poster is right on and the fact that Weedpecker are headed out anywhere is welcome news as far as I’m concerned. Glad someone will see them, even if it’s not me.

From the social medias:

weedpecker tour

Friends, People, Earthlings!

It has been coming a long way! Now it’s here: We’ll be joining forces with our german brothers, the mighty Gaffa Ghandi for a run of shows across Germany from 12th to 20th of october!!!

Come over and enjoy this killer package in a town near you while we deliver Dangerous Heavy Metal & Maximum Rock upon your banging heads!

Ultra sick artwork by our luvboi Artourette! Tour was booked and is presented by Unlimited Sonic Use!

Weedpecker live:

12.10 Bandhaus Leipzig
13.10 Zukunft Chemnitz
14.10 Chemiefabrik Dresden
15.10 TBC
16.10 Halle am Rhein Koln
17.10 Club VEB – Kulturfabrik Hildesheim
18.10 Bar227 Hamburg
19.10 Bunker Rostock
20.10 Setalight Fest Zukunft am Ostkreuz Berlin

Weedpecker is:
Wyro – guitar,vocals
Bartek – guitar,vocals
Karol – bass
Kuks – drums

https://www.facebook.com/Weedpecker-349871488424872/
https://weedpecker.bandcamp.com/
http://weedpecker.bigcartel.com/
http://weedpecker.8merch.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940/
https://twitter.com/stickmanrecords

Weedpecker, III (2018)

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Elder Touring Europe this Fall with Ancestors; Playing Fests and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

elder

Progressive heavy rock forerunners Elder will be back on the road in Europe for Fall 2018, joined by Ancestors for a run through festivals that includes Doom vs. Stoner, Up in Smoke, Desertfest Belgium 2018, Into the Void and Keep it Low. Because, basically, if you’re throwing a heavy fest in 2018, you want Elder to play. The former-trio-now-four-piece affirmed their ascendance last year with Reflections of a Floating World (review here) and have barely come off tour since. To wit, after the stint with Ancestors? They have another European tour. It’s pretty much how it goes with them these days, and right on.

You’ll note they mention an impending announcement about new music. I know what it is and it’s awesome. It’s not public yet, but yeah, there’s something cool happening. Stay tuned.

They posted the following on the social medias:

Elder announce European tour

We’re back on the autobahn and beyond again this fall, sharing the first leg of our tour with the fantastic @ancestors (who have a killer new album out) Let us know below what show you’ll be at!

Also, we’ve got another exciting announcement regarding new music coming in the near future…

29.09. UK – Sheffield, O2 Academy, Doom vs. Stoner Festival*
30.09. UK – Glasgow, The Audio*
01.10. UK – Leeds, TBA*
02.10. UK – Manchester, The Rebellion*
03.10. UK – Coventry, The Phoenix*
04.10. UK – Bristol, The Fleece*
05.10. UK – London, Garage*
06.10. CH – Pratteln, Up In Smoke Festival*
07.10. I – Milan, Legend*
08.10. I – Bologna, Freak Out / Locomotive*
09.10. I – Rome, Evol*
10.10. I – Fabriano, Sonic Room*
11.10. CRO – Zagreb, Vintage Industrial Bar*
12.10. HUN – Budapest, Dürer Kert*
14.10. B – Antwerp, Trix, Desertfest*
15.10. GER – Hannover, Chez Heinz*
16.10. GER – Berlin, S036*
17.10. GER – Dortmund, Junkyard*
18.10. F – Paris, Glazart*
19.10. NL – Leeurwarden, Neushoorn, Into the Void*
20.10. GER – Munich, Feierwerk, Keep It Low*
21.10. A – Vienna, Arena*

31.10. RUS – St Petersburg
01.11. RUS – Moscow
03.11. DK – Aalborg, Aalborg Metalfest
04.11. GER – Osnabrück, Bastard
05.11. GER – Karlsruhe, Stadtmitte
06.11. F – Poitiers, Le confort Moderne
07.11. E – Barcelona, Razzmatazz
08.11. E – Callosa De Segura (Alicante), Auditorium
09.11. E – Madrid, Nazca
10.10. I – Fabriano, Sonic Room
10.11. E – Bilbao, Santana 27
* with Ancestors

Artwork by @digitaldexter

http://facebook.com/elderofficial
https://www.instagram.com/elderband/
http://stickman-records.com
http://armageddonshop.com

Elder, Reflections of a Floating World (2017)

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Black Moon Circle, Psychedelic Spacelord: Newfound Purposes

Posted in Reviews on July 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Black Moon Circle Psychedelic Spacelord

I’m not sure what other kind of spacelord it would be — at least in the hands of Trondheim, Norway’s Black Moon Circle, but indeed, it’s a Psychedelic Spacelord. All the trip-out you can handle and then a bunch more from there. Enough so that the line, “Sometimes I feel I’m falling out of time… and space,” has a grounding effect. Issued by Crispin Glover RecordsPsychedelic Spacelord is the sixth Black Moon Circle LP in four years, following behind last year’s The Studio Jams Vol. III: Flowing into the 3rd Dimension (review here), 2016’s 2016’s Sea of Clouds (review here) and 2016’s The Studio Jams Vol. II (review here), 2015’s The Studio Jams Vol. I: Yellow Nebula in the Sky (discussed here), 2014’s Andromeda (review here) and also-2014’s self-titled debut EP (review here) and continuing the band’s lysergic outward journey, finding a place for itself amid a crowded subspace field of star-eyed heavy psychedelic explorers via a sense of openness that extends beyond even sheer sonics to the actual band makeup.

Still comprised of the founding trio of guitarist/backing vocalist Vemund Engan, bassist/vocalist Øyvin Engan, and drummer Per Andreas GulbrandsenPsychedelic Spacelord boasts returns from Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective and his magical customized synth box and recording engineer Magnus Kofoed, who contributes Rhodes, Mellotron and Hammond, and a first appearance from violinist Jonathan Segel. It’s worth noting that these are not listed as guest contributions. Dr. Space has been a member for a while now, and Kofoed recorded The Studio Jams Vol. III and played on that as well, so neither is exactly a stranger to Black Moon Circle‘s jammy modus, but as Segel makes his debut with the band, all three are listed as part of a six-piece incarnation: The Black Moon Circle Psychedelic Spacelord Family Band.

Okay, the name needs some work, I’ll admit, but you get the idea. The point is that over the last several years as Black Moon Circle have developed aesthetically, growing a chemistry between the brothers Øyvin and Vemund and Per on drums, they’ve extended that development to the actual structure of the group. A sonic reach grown in proportion to the amount of personnel involved. How does one even start to comprehend such a thing? I’ll admit, I don’t know, but if you can get your brain around it, the latest version of Black Moon Circle would like to immediately set about melting that same brain with their ultra-molten, gorgeously-patient and soaking-wet psychedelic flow, as represented on Psychedelic Spacelord by the 47-minute title-track that comprises the entire thing. That’s right. Black Moon Circle have both expanded to a six-piece and put out a one-song album. Ever wonder what it might be like when a band is truly on their own wavelength? Well, next time you need an example, you’ve got one.

In truth, putting aside the human-resources aspect of Psychedelic WarlordBlack Moon Circle have been headed toward the extended-single-track format for a while now. For bands of their sort — and if you don’t yet hold them in the same league as the Electric Moons, Papirs and Øresund Space Collectives of the universe, this record might change your mind — it’s almost a rite of passage when it comes to how vital a group’s jams have become. How far can they go? “Psychedelic Warlord” divides roughly in half to account for the limitations of the vinyl format, fading out at about 23 minutes in only to reemerge slowly after a minute or so of quiet, but it’s not like the jam ever actually stops. It’s just been edited.

Black Moon Circle

So to answer the question, they go pretty damn far. The Engan brothers and GulbrandsenKofoedHeller and Segel dig into hypnotic fluidity that once more finds suitably striking representation on the album cover, the image of which is taken from the oil/light show that accompanies the band live, and which only highlights the energetic approach that remains so prevalent in their methodology.

Remember that Psychedelic Spacelord is a named Black Moon Circle release. It’s still certainly based around a jam that’s semi-plotted but seems to have plenty of room for improvisation along its course, but what the band seem to do after getting that basic foundation established beneath them is build upward. Maybe they were recorded at the same time and the whole thing was done live, or maybe they were overdubbed later, but the vocals have always been something of a standout factor for Black Moon Circle, separating them from the instrumentalists when they want to be separate and finding them joining those ranks in the Studio Jams material. One recalls the 26-minute “Waves” from The Studio Jams Vol. III, and on multiple levels, it can be argued “Psychedelic Warlord” is an outgrowth of the same impulses. But the new offering is distinct unto itself not only for the human presence the vocals establish as they call out between the wash of synth, guitar, bass, cymbals and Mellotron in the song’s second half, but also because of Segel‘s first-time contributions on violin.

Treated with echo to match its cavernous surroundings, the violin is a defining presence on Psychedelic Spacelord and makes itself absolutely essential to the proceedings. That is, it’s not flourish. It plays as much a role as the various keyed instruments in setting the atmospheric breadth Black Moon Circle bring to bear, and while I certainly didn’t listen to their last release and think, “Golly these guys sure could use some strings,” by no means does Segel‘s participation make Black Moon Circle any more over-the-top than they clearly want to be. It brings class and further melodic intricacy to complement the keys, vocals, synth and guitar, and weaves through the extended piece with a grace that only highlights the same in the other elements at play. It makes Black Moon Circle a stronger, more complete band. Do they have room for a saxophone? Maybe. There’s an awful lot of space being created. Black Moon Circle Psychedelic Spacelord Orkester: coming soon.

Or, more likely, not. But take it as an indication of just how open Black Moon Circle‘s processes have become over these prolific years. As they approach a half-decade since their first long-player, they’ve not only amassed more of a catalog than some acts get in their entire career, but they’ve successfully managed to capture their will to push themselves forward each time out, as well as the meta-expansiveness that has made them who they are. All of them, acting together. Black Moon Circle may or may not be set in terms of their lineup, and I wouldn’t dare predict what they might do next or where it might go in sonic terms, but Psychedelic Spacelord conjures focus even as it subsumes the consciousness, becoming memorable through osmosis and a joy to undertake for its immersive, extended duration. Six albums in and one still can’t help but think of the potential and the possibilities for what lie ahead of Black Moon Circle. One more indicator of how special a band they are.

Black Moon Circle, Psychedelic Spacelord (2018)

Black Moon Circle on Thee Facebooks

Black Moon Circle on Bandcamp

Crispin Glover Records website

Stickman Records website

 

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Orango Working on New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I’ll readily admit that it took me a while to catch up to what Oslo classic heavy rockers Orango were doing on last year’s The Mules of Nana (review here), but I got there eventually, and found the everybody-sings three-piece injecting new life and much-needed old soul into heavy boogie the likes of which Europe has been churning out now for well over a decade. How does Orango put their stamp on such an established aesthetic? Well, having been at it for the better part of 20 years probably helps, and, you know, also being really good.

That’s my hard-hitting analysis. I hope you enjoyed it. Better news is that Orango are currently at work on their next offering. The update came in the latest newsletter from their label, Stickman Records, and while it’s light on hard facts like titles, methods, sounds, blah blah bah, I’ll just go ahead and take comfort in knowing there’s a new Orango on the way. Mark it a win.

If you didn’t hear it or feel like a why-the-hell-not revisit, you an stream The Mules of Nana in full at the bottom of this post. I’d say go for it.

From the PR wire:

orango gear

Orango studio update

Orango’s last LP The Mules Of Nana (2017) was a masterpiece of golden-era rock n’ roll, keeping on in the band’s tradition of beautiful vocal harmonies, astonishing melodies and heavy, southern-tinged grooves. The art of songwriting is certainly not lost on Orango – nor have they forgotten their title of “Norway’s hardest working rock band”. Since then, they’ve been busy with several tours and still found time to write a new album, which they’re currently finalizing at Ocean Sound Recordings in Ålesund.

Guitarist/singer Helge Kanck says: “The day after the release of The Mules of Nana, we once more locked ourselves in at Ocean Sound Recordings to record the follow up LP. We ended up touring a lot in 2017, so it took us a little longer than expected to finished off the new album. Now we’re done, and the record should be ready for release sometime during the autumn.”

What we’ve heard so far from the album has blown us away and we’re anxiously awaiting the full record!

Orango is:
Helge Bredeli Kanck: guitar and vocals
Hallvard Gaardløs: bass and vocals
Trond Slåke: drums and vocals

https://www.facebook.com/orangotheband/
https://orango.bandcamp.com/
https://www.orangotheband.com/
http://www.stickman-records.com/
http://stickmanrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940/

Orango, The Mules of Nana (2017)

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