Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk Self-Titled Debut Due Oct. 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

By now the sort of heavy blues rock in which Sundus Abdulghani and Trunk seem to traffic should be pretty familiar in terms of style. Rooted in classic ’70s-style riffing and soul, the Stockholm-based four-piece bring some funky flourish to the parameters established by the likes of Blues Pills, and one doesn’t have to go far into their self-titled debut to hear that influence play out. Respected purveyor Kozmik Artifactz has the record up for preorder now if you’re so inclined ahead of a set Oct. 13 release date, and as a teaser, the band has had the centerpiece track “The Devil’s Got a Hold on You” streaming for a while.

Seems like the band formed as Trunk maybe and Sundus joined afterwards? I’d be interested to know that story of how they got hooked up. The PR wire doesn’t have those details, but brings the pedigree info, tracklisting, links and pressing whatnot in Kozmik Artifactz fashion. Hell, you know how it goes.

And if you don’t, it goes like this:

Sundus-Abdulghani-Trunk-self-titled

Get ready for Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk coming this October via Kozmik Artifactz!

Introducing “Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk” and their seductively smooth and endlessly cool retro-rock. Hailing from Sweden, and featuring members from Black Bonzo, Gin Lady and The Blue Ruin, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk are teaming up with infamous European label, Kozmik Artifactz, to release their debut self-titled album this October.

Release Date: 13th October 2017

VINYL FACTZ
– Plated & pressed on high performance vinyl at Pallas/Germany
– limited & coloured vinyl
– 300gsm gatefold cover
– special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
1. Sister Sorrow
2. It Ain’t Love (But Close Enough)
3. She Knows
4. Them Dames
5. The Devil’s Got a Hold On You
6. Like Water
7. Stay
8. Black Magic Man
9. Twisted & Bound

Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk:
Sundus – Vocals & Tambourine
Jocke – Guitar & Vocals
Micke – Dums
Marko – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/trunkband/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz
http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/index.php?k=986
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/

Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, “The Devil’s Got a Hold on You”

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Friday Full-Length: Snowy Dunes, Snowy Dunes

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Snowy Dunes, Snowy Dunes (2015)

It does not take long for Snowy Dunes‘ 2015 self-titled debut to demonstrate why it has been so continuously well-received by the heavy rock underground in and beyond Europe. Released by the band digitally and issued via Rock Freaks Records as a gatefold 2LP, the nine-track/51-minute first offering from the Stockholm, Sweden, feels like something special at the outset, and the fact that the four-piece of guitarist Christoffer Kingstedt, bassist Carl Oredson, drummer Stefan Jakobsson and vocalist Niklas Eisen traveled to Los Angeles to record with Dead Meadow bassist Steve Kille only reinforces this position. Their psychedelic blues, whether portrayed in the 90-second harmonica-and-voice of “Watch out for Snakes,” the ultra-Hendrixian purple-haze-all-in-the-brain funk of “Electric Love,” or the nine-minute swaggering jam that follows on “Diablo” and finds Eisen calling out the moves the band will make in the second half of the song — “Alright we’re gonna do this for you, do some harmonies,” and then they do — is a right-on-target preach to the converted, and the sense of righteousness it finds in its execution is even more prevalent for the live-sounding feel behind it. That is, Snowy DonesSnowy Dunes goes far out — way far out — and all the while it sounds like, hey man, these songs just happened. Could’ve been different on any other day. The vague possibility that that’s actually the case would seem to make the record something even more vital, but it’s really just the starting point of an ultra-organic breadth that unfurls across its extended but immersive runtime.

When one thinks of the generational surge of heavy psychedelia throughout Europe that’s taken place over the last five or 10 years, it’s usually the post-Colour Haze bringers of tonal warmth who come to mind, or the slew of groups embroiled in even jammier fare, improvised or not. Lately, neo-psych influenced by space rock has emerged to converse with the Californian post-Earthless swirl set and the massive influence of Australia’s King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, and that will no doubt continue to reshape the underground in the next few years to come, but Snowy Dunes set themselves apart with their self-titled. While they for sure have their psychedelic aspects, and their jammy side comes to such a prevalence particularly later in the record that one wonders if Eisen isn’t making up his lines on the spot for a song like “Bad Wolf,” and whether he is or not is ultimately secondary since that’s the vibe the band are giving off. In terms of modern comparison points, Snowy Dunes have way more in common with Australia’s Child or a super-slowed-down Radio Moscow than they do the bulk of what’s coming from even the bluesiest corners of Europe, let alone Sweden, although one could just as easily argue that the classic mentality behind “Tranquil Mountain Lake” or “Dawn” is born just as much of Swedish retro rockism as of any outsider heavy blues. At a certain point, this becomes splitting hairs and the important factor — the deep sense of identity imbued within Snowy Dunes‘ material on their debut album — is lost. If it’s one or the other, I’d rather listen to the songs.

And Snowy Dunes certainly make that easy. Whether you’re flipping the vinyl platters over as you go or making your way through digitally, their Snowy Dunes brings its tracks to life with a rare level of flow, and while at 51 minutes, it borders on what one would generally think of as unmanageable — or at least less-manageable than standard single-LP length — there’s no more redundancy in “Turn Around,” “Watch out for Snakes” or “Desert Cold” — the latter as close as they come to naming a song after the band — than is intended, and the bring-the-listener-into-the-studio feel of the tracks as the recording progresses becomes one of the greatest assets with which Snowy Dunes works, though I won’t discount Eisen‘s easy-flowing soul or the bass tone Oredson uses to anchor the material without actually holding Kingstedt‘s wah-laced tonality down from meandering where it will (worth noting that the last thing you hear on the record is Oredson being introduced by Eisen). That dynamic emerges almost immediately on “Tranquil Mountain Lake” and remains firm across the bulk of the tracks, but amid the ebbs and swells of “Desert Cold,” and the blowout at the end of “Turn Around,” there’s plenty of heft brought to bear as well; Snowy Dunes just keep it baked perfectly so that whether they want to boogie on “Bad Wolf” or let loose one more time in closer “The Light” with starts and stops filled out by a croaking voice from Eisen, they can. Hell, by the time they get to that point, Snowy Dunes have shown pretty clearly that, wherever they’re looking to travel in a given path, they know just how they want to get there.

Snowy Dunes got a mention in my list of the best debut albums of 2015, but especially having had the chance recently to revisit the vinyl edition, it’s held up remarkably well. Early 2016 brought word of a concept album follow-up, Atlantis, and a 19-minute first installment thereof streaming at their Bandcamp page. Updates have trickled out since, including cover art this past May, but I’ve yet to catch wind of a firm release date for it. Part of that, perhaps, is Snowy Dunes sorting out a label situation for the release, but either way, whenever it arrives, Atlantis has a considerable task ahead of it in following-up Snowy Dunes, which has only continued to flourish where many of the other “best debut albums” on that list linked above have fallen by the wayside. Some records just grow on you over time, I guess.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading and listening.

Spent a pretty decent portion of this week out of my head, and not really in a good way. You might recall last Friday, my wonderful, now 32-weeks-pregnant wife The Patient Mrs. and I headed to New Jersey because my 102-year-old grandmother had been taken to the hospital. No one ever found out how she broke her hip, but it wound up requiring surgery. They put in two rods, like she was gonna get up and start running laps afterward. They said physical therapy. Uh huh. Then the lady had a stroke the next night and that put the kibosh on that.

As of this writing, she’s still alive. I guess you don’t get to be 102 and then just drop dead suddenly — clearly at that point you’re working on your own scale as regards time. She can’t swallow water, won’t eat, but took in some ice cream the day before yesterday — so fucking typical for my family — and yesterday she was moved to a hospice facility out of the hospital. They’re not going to do any physical therapy for the hip. They’re not going to think she’s really coming back to full consciousness at any point from here on out. They’re going to let her be, give her as much ice cream as she wants/is willing to take, and wait. We’re all waiting. Death limbo.

102 years old. There is no dignity at the end of life. You can die in a famous glorious battle and still shit your pants when you go. I’m not looking her to have a righteous, graceful departure. Wouldn’t be her style anyway. But she’s 102, and her body, acting on the purest, most unthinking of instinct, still can’t bring itself to let go and not squeeze every single last second out of her life. The arrangements are made, everything’s in order. It’s like she’s late to her own party. Obviously I’m sad to see her die — she’s been a major presence in my life for my 35-plus years and especially when I lived in NJ and after I got married and was a bit more of an adult, we got to be pretty close — but I also know there’s no way in her conscious mind she’d want to go on the way she is. And my poor mother. Ugh.

The Patient Mrs. and I came back to Massachusetts last weekend, said our goodbye and made our way back north, but I’ve been in touch with my family all week and gotten a steady string of updates, been conferenced in with doctors and so on. We wait. Excruciating. And I feel guilty for living five hours away from them, which I do anyway, but even more in situations like this.

Anyway, that’s my vent. Thanks for letting me have my moment.

This weekend is the baby shower in CT for The Pecan, who again, is due in October near to my own birthday. I don’t know who’s coming, but I know we’ll be there. Then on Wednesday I fly to Ireland for the Emerald Haze fest (info here) that I still can’t believe I’ll be fortunate enough to attend. The Patient Mrs. is also traveling this week — to San Francisco for a conference; she’s not even going to have time to go to Amoeba Music, much to my vicarious dismay — so plenty of chaos abounds. I’ve got a couple extra days on the back end of my trip to see Dublin slated as well, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting, but there are reviews to write so I’ll get stuff done anyway.

What will I do if Gramma dies in the interim or while I’m away? Cross that bridge when I come to it.

To put it another way, the notes for next week? They’re even more “subject to change” than usual. Here they are anyhow:

Mon.: Motorpsycho track premiere; Vision Éternel video premiere.
Tue.: Ruby the Hatchet review; new video from Cosmic Fall.
Wed.: Six Dumb Questions with Destroyer of Light; Ufomammut review.
Thu.: Biblical track premiere.
Fri.: Emerald Haze coverage.
Sat./Sun.: Emerald Haze coverage.

Much to do, much to do. The Obelisk stuff has been good because it’s given me something to focus on and deflect stress into. Gotta listen to this, gotta write about that, etc. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate you reading and being a part of this site, how much it means to me to have this be a conversation. Thanks to everyone who checked out that Ozzy piece earlier this week, or shared the Earthless news, or who commented on the Queens of the Stone Age review on Thee Facebooks, or who entered the Vokonis giveaway. Turned out to be a pretty killer week, even if I was distracted for most of it. If you’re reading, that’s on you, so yeah, thanks.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Wrapping up #VinylDay2017

Posted in Features on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Grooves and platters galore. My motivation behind doing Vinyl Day 2017 was simple: I felt like listening to records and sharing that process. It was kind of an off-the-cuff thing. Just an idea I had and ran with it. I figure it doesn’t need to be anything more than that, right? Isn’t putting on an album its own excuse for putting on an album? I tend to think so.

And yeah, I made it a hashtag. Because it’s the future, and hashtags. Instagrammaphone and whatnot. I’m a novice at best when it comes to the social medias, but it seems to me that if you’re going to share a full day’s worth of what you’re listening to, that’s the way to do it. So that’s what I did. If I clogged up your feed or whatever and it pissed you off, sorry.

For anyone who might’ve missed it, it turned out to be nine records of various sorts. Here they are, complete with accompanying audio when I could get it, because it’s the age of instant gratification:

There you have it. Had to be Sleep to end it. Pretty awesome day of music on the whole, and whatever was on your playlist yesterday, if it was this stuff or anything else, I hope you enjoyed. I’m gonna call Vinyl Day 2017 a definite win. Thanks for reading.

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Kungens Män to Deliver Dag & Natt July 31

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

kungens man

Drifting psych-jazz improvocateurs Kungens Män are gearing up to release a new 2LP in less than two weeks’ time. The Stockholm-based explorers — amorphous in personnel and sound, as ever — were last heard from in April with the offering Tomhetens Furste, a long-playing three-tracker streaming and pressed to limited tape through Eggs in Aspic. The latest work is Dag & Natt, and it will be out on vinyl through Adansonia Records and on CD through Kungens Ljud & Bild July 31 bringing a wash of psych-kraut who-knows-what that’s sure to melt brainstems and turn them into a lysergic homebrew at will in a prevailing weirdo wash. Don’t believe me? Tomhetens Furste is streaming at the bottom of this post. Put it on and just see if there’s any getting out alive.

Info on Dag & Natt comes courtesy of the PR wire:

kungens man dag natt

Kungens Män – Dag & Natt

A soothing Aylerian saxophone wakes you up in the morning. Your head gets going by lunch, while tapping your feet to a stomping groove with free flowing guitars on top. A hard driving krautrock song takes you through the evening. The veiled night enters in nuances of black. After the nightmarish turns inside your most hidden parts of the mind, a motorik beat picks you up to make the walk back home. And then it starts over again.

This is mood music for the adventurous. At all times.

Kungens Män are back with the new double-LP ”Dag & Natt” (Day & Night) on Adansonia Records (double vinyl-LP) and Kungens Ljud & Bild (double CD) on July 31st, 2017.

Kungens Män started out in 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden, when a bunch of good friends decided to bring some instruments when hanging out. The random jam sessions became more and more regular and soon Kungens Män started recording it all, completely unfiltered and without safety nets. The music soon found its way to the internet and a buzz occurred, connecting with listeners all over the globe. From the debut show with Master Musicians Of Bukkake and onwards, every show has been a different story. Always new sounds and improvisations, different guest musicians, different happenings. Kungens Män are rooted in the psychedelic/drone rock tradition of bands such as Träd, Gräs & Stenar, but also add influences from krautrock, shoegaze, noiserock and free jazz. They will always add something new to the mix to challenge themselves and the audiences’ preconceptions about what Kungens Män are all about.

Kungens Män have played at festivals such as The Psychedelic Network Festival (Würzburg, DE), PsyKA Festival (Karlsruhe, DE) and The Copenhagen Psych Fest (DK) and played with bands like Øresund Space Collective, Master Musicians of Bukkake, Yuri Gagarin, Spelljammer, The Spacelords and Radar Men From The Moon. They toured Europe in 2015 and 2016. In August 2017 they are invited by Mani Neumaier to play at the Guru Guru festival, Finki Open Air, along with acts such as Arthur Brown, The Pretty Things and of course, Guru Guru.

The first vinyl-LP “Förnekaren” by Kungens Män was released by the German label Adansonia Records in 2015, and was a success with critics and fans alike. The next double-LP “Stockholm Maraton” came out on Adansonia Records in September 2016. The third double-LP on Adansonia – “Dag & Natt” will be released on July 31st, 2017.

kungensman.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/bandetkungensman
instagram.com/kungensmanband
kungensman.tumblr.com
https://www.adansoniarecords.de/
https://www.facebook.com/adansoniarecords/

Kungens Män, Tomhetens Furste (2017)

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Then and Now: Lowrider, Ode to Io & Ode to Io Deluxe Edition (Plus Exclusive Mix Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

lowrider ode to io deluxe edition

LOWRIDER ODE TO IO

[Click play above to stream an exclusive A / B mix of Lowrider’s ‘Shivaree’ illustrating the differences between the original version and the remaster. Ode to Io Deluxe Edition‘s limited second pressing is available now to preorder.]

Let’s get all the clichés out of the way. Lowrider‘s Ode to Io is an absolute landmark. It is essential. Quite possibly the best desert-style rock record not to come from the actual Californian desert. There’s a lot of competition out there, granted — it’s a big planet — but almost nobody bought into post-Kyuss riffing with the depth, clarity of purpose, energy and songwriting that the Stockholm four-piece of bassist/vocalist Peder Bergstrand, guitarists Ola Hellqvist (lead and also vocals) and Niclas Stålfors and drummer Andreas Eriksson brought to their 2000 full-length debut. And while it arrived years after the likes of DozerNatas and Abramis Brama released their own first outings, at very least, Ode to Io (also discussed here) stands among the most essential heavy rock albums of the pre-social-media era, its 10 tracks originally issued by MeteorCity and at a time when what has become a worldwide heavy underground fanbase was still just taking its basic shape.

German imprint I Used to Fuck People Like You in Prison Records did an original vinyl pressing of Ode to Io to coincide with the MeteorCity CD, and if one is willing to pay secondary market prices, it’s still available, but in celebration of the band’s 20th anniversary, Lowrider has compiled a 2LP Ode to Io Deluxe Edition with additional tracks culled from their prior 1998 Double EP split with Nebula (discussed here), “Lameneshma” from 1997’s shared 7″ with countrymen rockers Sparzanza (discussed here), and the curio “David Williams Hughes” from MeteorCity‘s soundtrack to the independent film I am Vengeance. There are other demos and alternate versions floating around out there of some of their material, but it’s about as close to a complete-discography offering as Lowrider are going to get, and with the original mix by Eriksson and remaster by Thomas Eberger, they’ve never sounded fuller or more vibrant than they do on this vinyl. Deluxe Edition indeed.

Ode to Io original LP:

The original People Like You LP is honored in the fact that both platters on the new version have a similar transparent haze pattern, but the difference between the two is represented on multiple levels by the shift in tone of the artwork from silver (or grey, as it were) to gold. Ode to Io Deluxe Edition is a more-than-deserved revisit that doesn’t simply make the songs louder, but actually pays attention to the nuances in the mix of cuts like “Saguaro” — the pattern of starts and stops there is preserved with a breadth that only adds to the impact of both — and from the very launch of opener “Caravan,” the labor-of-love aspect in its construction is clear. Lowrider, who to-date have never issued a sophomore album to back Ode to Io, very obviously know they created something special 17 years ago, and while I refuse to take away from the appeal of the original LP’s rawness in conveying the youthful vigor of their performance — they were basically kids when the album was made; the youngest of them 17 and the oldest 26 — their efforts in updating the total 16 included tracks feel most of all like a thank-you to the audience that has kept Ode to Io relevant as more than a decade and a half has gone by.

Yes, songs like “Flat Earth” and “Anchor” hit harder, and the lower end of Bergstrand‘s bass and the guitars of Stålfors and Hellqvist is more forward than it was on 2000’s Ode to Io, but the attention to detail from Eriksson goes further. The spaciousness of “Texas Pt. 1 & 2” and the closing title-track is given righteous emphasis, and without making any single element overwhelming in relation to the others, Eriksson has bolstered the overarching impression of cuts like “Convoy V,” the ultra-fuzzed “Riding Shotgun” and “Dust Settlin’,” so that even his own snare hits feel warmer and clearer, giving up none of the attitude or the laid back vibes that punctuate even the heaviest, most active moments of the album. Plain and simple (and cliché): he nailed it. One doesn’t imagine Lowrider would put out Ode to Io Deluxe Edition if the situation were otherwise — they’re marking 20 years as a band but it’s not like they’re under contractual obligation; it’s a self-release — but still, as a fan, it’s especially satisfying to put the original Ode to Io and this new one side-by-side and see and hear on every level a rare instance of a heavy rock classic getting its long-overdue due.

It’s worth noting that while the running order is the same through Ode to Io itself, the split in sides has changed, and where the acoustic interlude “Sun Devil” led into “Anchor” to round out the LP’s first half, leaving “Texas Pt. 1 & 2,” “Riding Shotgun,” “Saguaro” and “Ode to Io” to close, Ode to Io Deluxe Edition shifts “Saguaro” and “Ode to Io” to side C, pairing them with “The Gnome, the Serpent, the Sun” and “David William Hughes.” Aside from the sound of the songs themselves (which is significant, make no mistake), it’s the biggest difference between the 2000 and the 2017 Ode to Ios, though the cowbell-laden fuzz nod and last crashes of “Riding Shotgun” hold their own as a finisher for side B without any trouble. The seeming intention would be to tie the album-proper directly with the bonus material, creating one entirety across the drifting end of “Ode to Io” into the opening riff of “The Gnome, the Serpent, the Sun” despite different recording sounds and an earlier overall take as was featured on the Nebula split.

Ode to Io Deluxe Edition:

Groove is groove, however, and in light of that, “The Gnome, the Serpent, the Sun” flows easily from the preceding cut and into “David William Hughes,” which tops a rhythmic push with spoken vocals before a long fadeout, leaving “Lameneshma,” “Shivaree,” “Ol’ Mule Pepe” and “Upon the Dune” as a particularly resonant side D. True, the material is formative compared to what would arrive a couple years later on Ode to Io, but from the hook proffered by “Lameneshma” to the improvised-sounding desert meandering of “Upon the Dune,” Lowrider efficiently showcase the breadth that was in even the earliest of their works and reinforce the to-be-treasured nature of the release as a whole. Deluxe Edition could have just as easily been called “collectors edition” given its compilation-type feel, but in being comprehensive in bringing Lowrider‘s songs together in one outing, the 2LP underscores the value and as-yet-timeless quality of what the band were able to accomplish in the studio.

Nearly half a decade has passed since they first reunited to play Desertfest London 2013 (review here) and they’ve threatened a new release basically ever since as they’ve continued to make appearances at HellfestDesertfest Berlin, Lake on FireUp in Smoke, Stoned from the Underground, etc., and they’ve stated that the proceeds from this vinyl will go toward future recordings, but whether Lowrider will actually issue a follow-up to Ode to Io remains to be seen. Serving perhaps as a preview of the tonal breadth and clarity of approach they might manifest across a new batch of songs, however, Ode to Io Deluxe Edition provides yet another level of encouragement. If the one is a step along the path to the other, it’s a step an entire new generation of listeners seems ready to take. Recommended.

Lowrider, Ode to Io Deluxe Edition (2017)

Lowrider on Bandcamp

Lowrider on Thee Facebooks

Lowrider webstore

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Friday Full-Length: November, En Ny Tid Är Här…

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

November, En Ny Tid Är Här… (1970)

Eons from now, when rock archaeologists — rockaeologists? — unearth the ruins of our civilization in search of righteous tunes, some lucky muck will dust off a copy of November‘s 1970 debut, En Ny Tid Är Här…, and wind up crediting them with inventing heavy groove itself. They didn’t, of course, but there’s little doubt the Stockholm outfit were ahead of the curve in the post-hippie, post-psych movement of what was coming next in guitar-led fare. Informed by the blues much as were Cream, Sabbath, Hendrix, Zeppelin and Purple before them, November nonetheless preceded an entire wave of bands in taking the rock-via-blues licks and beefing them up with significant thrust of tone and rhythmic nod, so that songs like “En Annan Värld” and “Sekunder (Fövandlas Till År)” didn’t just shuffle, they nodded. Bands like Atomic Rooster and Bloodrock were still about a year off from figuring this out, but soon enough there would be an explosion of heavy rock and roll in their wake, and November — who released En Ny Tid Är Här… in the summer of ’70 with leadoff track “Mount Everest” as a single — seem to have got in just under the wire as an early adopter of the style.

Maybe that’s no less a narrative than someone saying they invented the whole thing, but at least it’s more realistic. November formed in 1969 with the lineup of bassist/vocalist Christer Stålbrandt, drummer/vocalist Björn Inge and guitarist Rickard Rolf, coming together around various other incarnations from Stålbrandt and Inge, and during their time together, they’d offer three full-lengths, gradually becoming more progressive over time. One might then think of the bounce in “Varje Gång Jag Ser Dej Känns Det Lika Skönt” as formative, but if that’s the case, the freshness of its energy remains steady even these 47 years later. Ditto that for the stomping “Gröna Blad,” which seems in direct conversation instrumentally with Leaf Hound‘s “Growers of Mushroom” — until one considers that it would be another year before that track and album surfaced from the British band. In terms of that conversation, however, it’s worth noting the use by November of Swedish-language lyrics and titles throughout the record. The notion of mass-marketing a project through the adoption of singing in English is something bands still grapple with, and while November are certainly well remembered thanks in part to reissues of En Ny Tid Är Här… both legitimate and bootleg, one can’t help but wonder if their legend would be even more widespread if they’d called the album A New Time is Here… instead.

Whatever the rockaeologists ultimately decide on that one, En Ny Tid Är Här… stands among the stronger offerings of its era in English or any language. In 1971, it would be followed by 2:a November and in 1972 by 6:e November, rounding out a trilogy of releases after which the group had run its course, members moving on to different projects in progressive rock and jazz. They’d get back together in the early ’90s and release a live album in 1993 via Mellotronen Records that was recorded in 1971, and have played periodic reunion shows since 2007, but they have remained underrated even among their entirely underrated epoch, and particularly En Ny Tid Är Här… seems ripe for a revisit, whether that’s through a deluxe vinyl reissue, new album from the band, whatever it might be. Some stuff is just too good to leave alone.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for listening and reading.

final fantasy viii bannerWell, today’s it. My last day at work. For the last year, I’ve been employed on a contract basis for Hasbro and that contract has expired. I was hoping said contract would get picked up for full-time employment, but I suck and am awful at everything and am too weird and off-putting as a human being for that to happen, apparently. People here have been nice enough about it, but yeah. I pretty much blew this one. Story of my professional life, to some degree or other.

On the right is a picture of one of my few cubicle decorations: a wall scroll for Final Fantasy VIII that I bought at the comic book store Pegasus Enterprises in Boonton, NJ (since closed), around the time the game came out. I was in high school, working at KB Toys #1051 in Morris Plains, and I also bought myself a new television for the sole purpose of playing that game on it. I still like Final Fantasy IV best of the bunch — VI or VII are the wider consensus picks; they’re both great — but VIII was a special time. 1999 had its ups and downs, I suppose.

Anyway, I don’t get to hang that thing up at home, so after I took that picture I rolled it up and it’s in the closet upstairs at home, already tucked away until who knows when. Bye Hasbro. The last thing to be taken out of the cube was the box of protein bars that I’ve been rotating through for lunch for the last however long and my water bottle. I met my replacement yesterday and I’m sure she’ll be better at this job than I was. I don’t know if she runs a music blog on the side. Somehow it didn’t come up. Ha.

If you know of anyone who needs a freelance editor or writer, I’m available.

Just not really for the next two weeks. Starting today, The Patient Mrs. (and thus the Pecan), the Little Dog Dio and I are hitting the road. The trajectory is Maryland this weekend for a family wedding. That’s Saturday. Sunday, we (minus the dog) are going to an Orioles game, and hanging out on Monday before heading to North Carolina on Tuesday to see my father. In North Carolina from Tuesday through Thursday, then back north. Stopping in Maryland again for Thursday night because seven hours of driving is enough for one day. Might hang in MD for the early part of Friday, but it’s really just a stop-over (I do feel guilty for missing Maryland Doom Fest), because up in Jersey my family will be celebrating my grandmother’s 102nd birthday. She’s the oldest lady. Very old. So you show up. That’s what you do. After that, next Saturday, we’ll hang out in NJ and see friends, then bring my mother back north probably to CT for the night and then eventually back up to Massachusetts to spend a week hanging out and doing baby-prep stuff.

It’s a lot of trip, but I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t been to New Jersey since Xmas and there’s a part of me that I suspect will always think of it as home, so yeah. Will be tiring, but good. I enjoy writing on the road as well and hope to hit a record shop or two along the way.

And in the meantime, the notes for next week are of course packed. Here’s what’s in store, subject to change:

Mon.: Mouth album stream/review; Skraeckoedlan announcement/video debut.
Tue.: Abronia album stream/review; new Sons of Morpheus video.
Wed.: Serpents of Secrecy track(s) premiere; Pyreship video premiere.
Thu.: Streaming the Burnout split from Tee Pee Records; Six Dumb Questions with Esben from Monolord.
Fri.: Greenbeard album stream/review.

Like I said. Jammed. The week after was supposed to be the Quarterly Review, but I’ve decided to push it back to the week after. That’s the 4th of July here in the States, but whatever. Maybe I’ll make that day all European bands or something just for fun. Most of that is planned out, but I figure with being on the road and the above-noted posts, plus any of a given day’s news that comes along, I’ll have plenty enough happening without worrying about gathering images and putting together the back end of those posts — let alone writing them — which is always time consuming.

But anyway, adventure begins. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. If you’re on the I-95 or I-81 corridors, I’ll see you there, and if you know of any record stores I should hit in Asheville, North Carolina, please let me know, as I’m thinking we might make a quick run over that way in the middle of next week, since I have fond memories of when I was there in 2009.

And while I’m asking for favors, please check out the forum and radio stream. Thanks for reading and listening.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Review & Video Premiere: Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on May 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

siena-root-a-dream-of-lasting-peace

[Click play above to see the premiere of Siena Root’s video for ‘No Filter.’ Their new album, A Dream of Lasting Peace, is out May 26 in Europe and June 23 in the US on MIG Music/MVD.]

Among those playing classic-style heavy rock, there are few who do it with the conviction of purpose or the soul of Sweden’s Siena Root, and that has remained true in the 13 years since their 2003 Nasoni-delivered debut, A New Day Dawning, despite some significant shifts in personnel and sound. Their fifth studio full-length, A Dream of Lasting Peace, finds the Stockholm five-piece indisputable as masters reveling in the form, even as new frontman Samuel Björö makes his studio debut with the band following the departure of Jonas Åhlén after 2014’s Pioneers (discussed here).

Founding bassist/vocalist Sam Riffer and drummer/vocalist Love “Billy” Forsberg continue to resonate as the core of the group, and if their last outing captured them still in transition style-wise after splitting with guitarist/sitarist KG West, whose psychedelic ambience was a huge part of the craft of their early work on albums like the aforementioned debut, 2006’s Kaleidoscope (discussed here), 2008’s Far from the Sun and 2009’s Different Realities (discussed here), these 10 tracks/44 minutes show RifferForsbergBjörö, guitarist Matte Gustavsson and organist/keyboardist Erik “Errka” Petersson well in command both aesthetically and in terms of performance. Throughout the release, Björö shines as a singer and Petersson and Gustavsson play off each other — see the penultimate light-step boogie of “Imaginarium” — in a fashion that would and should make peak-era Deep Purple fans blush with delight.

A Dream of Lasting Peace offers touches of psychedelia in the drifting bluesy jam of “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay” and stage-ready vitality across the likes of “No Filters,” “Outlander” and the bouncing funk of “Tales of Independence,” but primarily, the album lands its impact with the strength of its hooks and the balance of its execution across this range of mostly positive-vibing moods. Siena Root are not a dark band, and they never have been, and A Dream of Lasting Peace sounds like the people who made it were having a good time in a way that proves as infectious as the chorus of opener “Secrets” and “Tales of Independence,” which follows in a righteous opening salvo that continues to build momentum as it shuffles into the more laid back “Sundown.” Harmonies pervade a more patient fluidity, but with Petersson‘s underlying organ line and toss-off lead flourish from Gustavsson, the melody is ever at hand, and an instrumental break at 1:48 into the song’s unassuming 4:19 gives the organ space for a solo complemented by guitar and propelled by the creative drumming of Forsberg, who adds chimes just before a tom roll signals the change back into the verse that reintroduces Björö on vocals.

It would be a worthy single with Riffer‘s bass as the foundational element, but it does just as well here as a transition into the even more subdued blues of “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay,” the longest inclusion at 6:08 and a graceful instrumental swell that seems drawn forward by Björö, who delivers his most impressive performance of the record in what feels like a showcase track despite a midsection crescendo that offers crisp, thicker guitar and key work and dynamic changes in tempo and volume. As they sleek their way through the crashing end of that song and into the organ rumble that starts “Outlander,” the return to a more energetic chorus and classic structure marked by its starts and stops is a welcome finish to side A, and the manner in which Petersson and Gustavsson end the track first together, then just with Petersson‘s keys, couldn’t feel more appropriate as the fadeout begins.

siena root

Already through the first half of A Dream of Lasting Peace, there is no level on which Siena Root aren’t delivering. In performance, in the quality of their songwriting, in the balance of clarity and natural feel of the recording itself and in the spirit driving them, they come across as revitalized, and if Pioneers was their way of exploring the possibilities of where their classic influences might take them post-West, here they take the lessons they learned from that experience and use them to grab the reins of their approach and hone something truly special. Traditionally, one would find a band experimenting a bit more on side B, and the Purple-hued rush of “Growing Underground” teases that possibility a bit in a direct call and response from Gustavsson and Petersson that’s just flat-out fun, leading to “Empty Streets,” which seems at first to echo “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay” but finds Riffer delivering a highlight bassline in tandem with the organ late as part of a rousing apex built outward from a nigh-on hypnotic but still progressive meandering.

The shorter and more straightforward “No Filters” has a push to echo “Secrets” and “Tales of Independence” early on, and makes a suitable centerpiece for side B as it regrounds Siena Root heading into the jazzy instrumental “Imaginarium” and subsequent closer “The Echoes Unfold,” which offers a spacious ending with echo on Björö‘s voice to fill a void of stopped guitar and keys and temporarily paused drums and bass. The play of volume and push that ensues is no less poised than anything preceding, less bluesy than “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay,” but thoroughly satisfying in its winding chorus and in the key-led ending section, which takes hold at about the three-minute mark and carries through to the long fade just past five minutes in, casting a symmetry with “Outlander” and once again feeling wholly befitting the course Siena Root have set overall.

Given the obvious care put into their presentation and the level of realization Siena Root attain within these tracks and through the overarching flow they create between them, A Dream of Lasting Peace is a joy that feels sculpted specifically to cast a celebration among the heavy rock converted. The band have their niche, to be sure, but they’ve long excelled in their work and their latest only furthers that thread while also setting them on a sustainable path going forward. Their lineup has always been subject to change and it’s entirely possible it will be in the future as well, but these songs hit on a balance worthy of being considered a highlight in their discography and if they serve as a model for the band to follow, at least for a while, that can only be to the benefit of players and fans alike. A no-doubter to stand among 2017’s best in classic and progressive heavy rock and roll.

Siena Root on Thee Facebooks

Siena Root on Bandcamp

Siena Root on Instagram

Siena Root website

Siena Root at MIG Music

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The Presolar Sands to Release The Big Noise April 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the presolar sands

If you’ve got a couple minutes and a will to drift, Swedish psych rockers The Presolar Sands would like to have a word. Or at least some tone. And a few words. Okay it’s a streaming song. Fine. You got me. Happy now?

Jeez.

The Stockholm-based four-piece make their full-length debut on April 12 via Lazy Octopus Records with The Big Noise, and though the title hints at cacophony and maybe the album has plenty of it, the track they’re streaming in advance, “Witches’ Hill,” soothes as much as it ranges over the course of its classic cult-poppy three-minutes.

You can check it out at the bottom of the post, under all the album art and info and whatnot, which was snagged from the interwebs:

the presolar sands the big noise

THE PRESOLAR SANDS – ”THE BIG NOISE” – RELEASE APRIL 12

The Presolar Sands creates music from a broad spectrum of genres that comes together in a world where melodic and psychedelic elements resonate with crushed explosive noise and dark witch symbolism. Since the debut in 2015, The Presolar Sands have released a 7” and an EP, they’ve supported international acts such as Kikagaku Moyo and White Hills and played shows around Scandinavia and Europe including festivals like Sweden Rock Festival (2016), Malmö Psych Fest (2015), Copenhagen Psych Fest (2016), Malmöfestivalen (2016) and Where’s The Music? (2017).

Their debut album THE BIG NOISE is out April 12 via Lazy Octopus Records. It draws inspiration from the Witch Hunts of the 17th century, and the period of mass hysteria in Sweden, called The Big Noise (Det Stora Oväsendet), where hundreds of women were assassinated for ”practicing witchcraft”.

THE BIG NOISE has heart-beat drums, vibrating guitars, reverberating piano, dark lyrics and the witchy voices of Jessica (sings lead vocals on “Exposure”, “Witches’ Hill”, “State Of Loneliness”, “Panic Disorder”, “Skinchanger” and “We Own You”) and Charlotta (sings lead vocals on “Det Stora Oväsendet” and “Dig You Out”).

It was recorded at Studio Cobra in Stockholm in November 2016 together with producer/engineer Martin Ehrencrona and mastered by Hans Olsson Brookes at Svenska Grammofonstudion in Gothenburg.

Tracklisting:
1. Exposure
2. Det Stora Oväsendet
3. Witches’ Hill
4. Dig You Out
5. State Of Loneliness
6. Panic Disorder
7. Skin Changer
8. We Own You

https://www.facebook.com/ThePresolarSands/
http://instagram.com/thepresolarsands
https://www.thepresolarsands.com/
https://lazyoctopus.bandcamp.com/album/the-big-noise
http://www.lazyoctopusrecords.se/
http://facebook.com/lazyoctopusrecords

The Presolar Sands, The Big Noise (2017)

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