Friday Full-Length: Hermano, …Into the Exam Room

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Hermano, …Into the Exam Room (2007)

In the vast catalog of vocalist John Garcia, which includes Unida, Slo Burn, Vista Chino, three solo records, Zun and more guest appearances than I can count in addition to his time fronting the formative desert rockers Kyuss, Hermano‘s third album, …Into the Exam Room, is the most undervalued. Issued in 2007 by Suburban Records, it was recorded in no fewer than six studios, featured writing contributions from Garcia as well as guitarists Dave Angstrom and Mike Callahan, bassist Dandy BrownChris Leathers completed the lineup and I’m sure came up with his own parts — and Sean Bilovecky, who was one of the 10 engineers credited working in geographic locales like Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, and indeed, Palm Springs, California. At that point, is it even fair to call …Into the Exam Room a desert rock album? Therein lies the appeal. It is desert rock, and so much more.

Hermano‘s earlier work on 2002’s …Only a Suggestion (discussed here) and 2004’s Dare I Say… was straight-up desert-style songcraft, following in a tradition Garcia helped create. Though it must have been a logistical nightmare to put together, let alone to mix — I think this was the first time I interviewed Garcia; he was working as a vet tech; he mostly spoke about being a family man and was driving his family to a basketball game at the time? pretty sure that’s how it went — …Into the Exam Room blew down the doors of genre. Absolutely, songs like “Left Side Bleeding” and “Hard Working Wall,” “Adoption Boy,” the penultimate “Our Desert Home” and even opener “Kentucky” had desert rock on lockdown. No question. The push, the tonal weight, and of course Garcia‘s vocal style — yes. It was all there. But …Into the Exam Room‘s 12 tracks went so far beyond that as to make it just one more element at their disposal, to be used at moments when it might be most effective, for example, with “Left Side Bleeding” taking off at a sprint from the finish of the acoustic “Dark Horse II.” Garcia’s last crooned line in that song was, “I’m so much more,” and …Into the Exam Room was the record where he proved it.

Not just on mostly-unplugged cuts like “Dark Horse II,” “Bona Fide” or “At the Bar” — which itself appeared ahead of the mega-hook in “Our Desert Home” — but on the unmitigated heavy funk rock of “Exam Room” itself, or the loose-feeling but still tightly constructed “Out of Key, But in the Mood” or even “Don’t Call Your Mama,” with its relatively dead-ahead start and memorable chorus, which ended up reiterated by Garcia alone for the final minute as the instruments largely dropped out behind him. Through complex arrangements and nuanced sonic dhermano into the exam roometailing, these songs pushed well beyond anything Hermano had done before, and that extended even to the in-the-studio atmosphere given to the tracks by the inclusion of short intros, even just toss-off gag lines and things like that. I don’t think one would get away with including the inflected lisp at the beginning of “Our Desert Home” these days without being called out for it — at least I hope not — but whether it was the quick bit of guitar noise at the start of “Hard Working Wall,” the far-away dream vocals that begin “Dark Horse II” or the revving motor that set the album in motion in “Kentucky” and the reference to “Dueling Banjos” that ended that opener, these little moments added to the inherent diversity of the material and helped set a wide-open creative sphere in which the record took place. They gave it more personality, and in the case of “At the Bar,” the recorded child’s voice of Calliope Brown — presumably the progeny of Dandy Brown — set up the closer “Letters from Madrid” two tracks later, which featured Angstrom‘s daughter and son, Audrey Angstrom and Evan Angstrom, strumming an acoustic guitar and repeating the line, “Everyone still believes in you but you” before ending with both kids saying “I love you, daddy.” Tearjerker.

And maybe that’s what Hermano were doing on …Into the Exam Room. I recall Garcia at the time noting that the title referred to looking at one’s life, and certainly the semi-title-track “Exam Room” lived up to that — “Well you’ve got 40 more years to go drown in your tears/And the little hand’s slower than the big hand, honey” — so perhaps this work, spread from one end of the country to the other and recorded in a manner so complicated I can even pretend to have a grasp on how it happened, is Hermano with the advent of middle age, with home life. Maybe it was supposed to be a blowout. I don’t know. Whatever it was, …Into the Exam Room was a mature vision of style that legitimately did desert rock in a way it had never been done before. And it kinda flopped.

Maybe it was the wrong moment? Maybe if it came out today it would do better? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that …Into the Exam Room was the last record Hermano released — though they were playing new material three years ago, so when I say “last,” take the potential impermanence of that into consideration — and that Garcia subsequently went on to form Garcia Plays Kyuss in 2010, which became the semi-reunion Kyuss Lives!, which in turn became Vista Chino. In some ways, I look at …Into the Exam Room like Vista Chino‘s lone 2013 album, Peace (review here, also discussed here). It was a way to move forward. Still acknowledging the past, but not necessarily dwelling in it. I thought Vista Chino had a real chance to build something new, but I think it was another case where they didn’t get the public response they wanted, so went their separate ways.

Same thing here, though the complex logistics very well could’ve also played a part. Still, Dandy Brown does solo work. Angstrom has stayed involved with Garcia on the songwriting front, Garcia dutifully delivers desert rock with his Band of Gold, and Hermano kind of disintegrated at least until their onstage reunion a few years back at Hellfest in France. Entirely possible they’re working quietly on a follow-up fourth LP, but even if they are, that doesn’t change the fact that …Into the Exam Room has languished for 12 years as a ridiculously underrated album. What should’ve been a springboard to Hermano stepping out of the shadow of Garcia‘s past in Kyuss instead became their final record. A loss for sure in terms of the potential, but listening back to …Into the Exam Room more than a decade after the fact, I can’t help but feel lucky we got this record in the first place.

This one’s for Slevin. As always, I hope you enjoy.

I got unceremoniously fucked out of an audio premiere this week. Brutally. It happens all the time that PR companies and record labels decide to do streams with a bigger outlet, and hey, I get it. They’re getting paid to get shit in front of as many eyes as possible, and just because I might write some hyper-wordy piece about how crucial a band’s work is doesn’t mean I have the same reach as Revolver or Kerrang or whoever. I get it. I’ve been involved one shape or another in the music industry for 15 years. People have dumb hair and wear t-shirts, but at the end of the day, it’s a business. Not personal.

Usually I let it go. This is a low-stakes thing. We’re not solving climate change here. This one hurt though primarily because of the people involved, and because it was something that had been committed to me that was when taken away for ostensibly a bigger outlet (I’m not even sure that it is, but I’m not going to name names, and obviously it was neither of the mags above). I was set to go, and after arranging it like a month ago, this week it got pulled. It’s one of the year’s best records, from band I’ve been writing about for seven years, on a label I’ve been covering voraciously since before this site started 10 years ago, and yeah, I just got straight-up fucked over. As I said, brutal.

That, combined with ongoing tooth pain, kind of colored my week in a distinct hue of “everybody fuck off.” I went saw the Deep Space Nine documentary with The Patient Mrs. on Monday in an opiate fog of leftover percocet from some medical procedure or other, and was still holding my aching head in my hands by the end. I finally got to the dentist on Tuesday afternoon and they indeed found an infection that had spread to multiple teeth and decided I needed an emergency root canal as well as antibiotics. Super duper. So they numbed me up and let me sit there and wait 45 minutes before starting the procedure — dentist had two patients with the same appointment and was next door fitting a crown, as I could hear through an open doorway — then came back, found I wasn’t numb enough when they started digging through my tooth and it was excruciating. Another three shots of novocaine, the last two right in the nerve, which hurt. Significantly.

Eventually I was numb enough that I couldn’t feel the dentist scraping the nerve out of my tooth. He left it open so the infection could drain — yup, gave me a big ol’ hole-in-the-tooth; still got it — and I have to go back Monday so they can finish the procedure. I fainted at the counter making my next appointment. Fell over and everything. Ker-plunk. They put me on the couch and gave me one of those little plastic rinse cups of water. I felt old, and sad, and alone.

So yeah. My mouth still hurts, though nowhere near the constant infected throb it was last weekend. Just enough to still be there.

Here’s what’s up for next week:

MON 05/20 WOLF PRAYER VID PREMIERE; KANDODO3 TRACK PREMIERE/REVIEW
TUE 05/21 VALLEY OF THE SUN REVIEW
WED 05/22 ABRAHMA FULL ALBUM STREAM
WED 05/22 TOUR ANNOUNCE; SLEEP LIVE RECORD REVIEW
FRI 05/24 SLOUGH FEG PREMIERE/REVIEW (MAYBE)

That Slough Feg is going to happen, it’s just a question of whether it happens next Friday or some other time. The rest is pretty much locked in, as much as anything. Subject to change blah blah, as usual.

The process of moving south back to New Jersey has begun as The Patient Mrs. and I have started packing. Home Depot moving boxes haven’t changed much in the last half-decade, it seems. Old t-shirts and stuff go first, I guess. I’ll do records sooner or later. I’d prefer sooner, just to get it done, but who the hell knows. It’s going to be a long, busy summer on the I-95 corridor, I think. Good thing I’m not doing anything crazy like flying to Ireland next week.

Oh wait.

Yeah, that’s happening. The Patient Mrs., in one of her final acts as full-time faculty for Bridgewater State University, here in not-at-all-scenic Southeastern Massachusetts, is taking students on a study-abroad trip from I guess this Thursday through June 3. It’s madness, I tell you. I’m going basically to provide childcare, as I did in London last year. I don’t know how that will affect posts or whatever during travel days. I’d like to buy a throwaway cheapie 11″ laptop rather than risk traveling with this one, which is huge and has like my whole life on it, but I don’t think the money is there for such things.

Oh, and tonight’s like a going-away party The Patient Mrs. is throwing with two of her friends at our place that maybe like 30-50 people are coming to? Strangers to me, mostly. I didn’t invite anyone because I don’t have any friends in real life and I expect to be sad and then to go to sleep early without saying goodnight. Because that’s who I am. I’m the guy who faints at the counter in the dentist’s office.

Fuck it. I’m gonna premiere Kandodo3 and Slough Feg next week. Life is awesome.

Have a great and safe weekend. Please hit up the shirts and such at Dropout Merch, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

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Death Alley, Live at Roadburn: Into the Supernatural

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

death-alley-live-at-roadburn

Not going to attempt any impartiality when it comes to this release, and I’m starting to think anyone who does is approaching it wrong. Amsterdam-based Death Alley — somehow heading toward veteran status despite having only one record out in their 2015 Tee Pee Records debut, Black Magick Boogieland (review here) — aren’t trying to invoke impartiality. Just the opposite. The four-piece want to charge on a primal level and they want to charge outward from there into reaches unknown to player or listener alike. To be unaffected by that seems like an immediately incorrect starting point.

I was at the Green Room of the 013 Poppodium to see them perform the set last April (review here) that Astrosoniq drummer Marcel van de Vondervoort and his team captured and is seeing release as Live at Roadburn through Tee Pee and Suburban Records, and I watched as Death Alley — then the lineup of vocalist Douwe Truijens, guitarist/backing vocalist Oeds Beydals, bassist/backing vocalist Dennis Duijnhouwer and drummer Ming Boyer (the latter of whom has since left the band) — brought Ron van Herpen and Jevin de Groot onto the stage with them to share in the expanses they were creating. Also a member of Astrosoniqvan Herpen is a former bandmate of Beydals‘ in crucial cult rockers The Devil’s Blood, while de Groot was a member of the vastly underrated cosmic doom outfit Mühr alongside Duijnhouwer, so not at all strangers to each other. Friends. It was billed as Death Alley & Friends, and that’s exactly what it was in spirit as well as the plain reality of circumstance. By the time they got through the clarion set-opener “It’s On,” everyone in the room seemed to have been handed an invitation to be included in that as well. Death Alley and about 700 new and old friends.

Live at Roadburn only has four tracks — “It’s On,” “666666,” “Feeding the Lions” and “Supernatural Predator” — but it’s full-LP length at 45 minutes. The entirety of side B is dedicated to “Supernatural Predator,” which is drawn out from its already substantial 12-minute push on Black Magick Boogieland to a galaxial 22 minutes, a hypnotic and immersive jam taking hold that, having watched and heard it happen, hit like welcoming waves of soulful tone that seemed at once forward looking and an inherent homage to former The Devil’s Blood spearhead Selim Lemouchi, who took his own life in 2014 leaving a chasm in the Netherlands heavy underground. His sister and The Devil’s Blood vocalist, Farida Lemouchi, guests on the studio version of the track, but on Live at RoadburnDeath Alleyvan Herpen and de Groot sing her part as a full Hawkwindian chorus of “ahhs” to righteous effect, culminating a build that seems to have started with the motoring thrust of “It’s On” and continued into the mega-guitar vibes of “666666” and the more classically styled “Feeding the Lions.”

death alley roadburn 2016 jj koczan photo

Though the name comes across like a toss-off because there were six players on stage — in shows they’ve done since with this expanded lineup, they’ve used the moniker Death Alley 6 — “666666” is a key moment in the set. I don’t know if the set as a whole has been edited to fit on a single platter; my sense is it has but I wouldn’t guess how. Nonetheless, “666666” is the point of departure from which Death Alley take flight for the rest of their time on stage. It happens at about three and a half minutes in when, over a Butlerian bassline, the guitars begin to soar toward a linear apex that pays off in lockstep harmonized runs nearly four minutes later for a gorgeous and cohesive effect. It must have been worked out ahead of time to some degree — I don’t play guitar, but improv harmonies don’t seem like the kind of thing that happen often — but the feeling of warmth and spontaneity conveyed in that jam is a defining moment for Live at Roadburn as a whole, however long and however grand the finale might be.

“Feeding the Lions” picks up from there with bass and drums setting a tense tone amid initial wah swirl from the guitar, and though the vibe stays spacey, Truijens reassumes the fore as vocalist and his charisma and classic frontman strut is no less a part of making the mid-paced piece a standout than the depth of the instrumental progression playing out behind him. By this point, Death Alley are in utter command of the room and their sound, and they hint just past the midpoint at some Floyd-style theatrical weirdness to come but hold to a sense of structure all the same and purposefully so for where they’re about to head on “Supernatural Predator.” A short guitar solo circa 5:40 makes me wish it went longer, but “Feeding the Lions” ends in a wash of cymbals and wah as Truijens thanks the crowd and van Herpen and de Groot and Duijnhouwer thanks Roadburn organizer Walter Hoeijmakers, and then the quiet intro of “Supernatural Predator” starts, its sleek intertwining of guitar and bass — willfully restrained in comparison to what follows — an immediate signifier of arrival for the group and everyone in the room.

Once it bursts out, “Supernatural Predator” makes a resounding argument for rock and roll as means of attaining spiritual freedom, and its extra time is triumphantly spent in its already-noted jam, which rounds out by first teasing a turn back to the song itself and then actually making one, so that as far out as Death Alley (and friends) have gone, they finish clear-headed and give the audience a sense of the complete experience. This not only underscores the value of their songwriting, but also of the maturity the band has been able to hone over just a few short years. As they move away from Black Magick Boogieland toward an inevitable sophomore full-length, Death Alley seem poised to establish themselves in a major way, and to make a definitive statement of who they are as a group. Live at Roadburn shows in its blend of forward rhythmic drive and cosmic psychedelia just how multifaceted that statement can potentially be, and highlights the reasons why Death Alley are one of the most exciting and affecting bands in the worldwide heavy underground. Not an impartial statement, but yes, I mean that.

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Death Alley to Release Live at Roadburn 2016 Feb. 24; Preorder Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

death alley roadburn 2016 photo jj koczan

If you think preordering a live album is going a little overboard, you probably weren’t in the room when Death Alley played Roadburn 2016 this past April. On Feb. 24, the Amsterdam heavy rockers will issue their set from the Green Room, the second day of the fest (review here), for which they were joined by Ron van Herpen (Astrosoniq, ex-The Devil’s Blood, currently of ZooN) and Jevin de Groot (ex-Mühr) to fill out a six-piece lineup whose output from the stage was as massive and overwhelmingly immersive as fest organizer Walter Roadburn describes it in his liner notes below, which he posted via social media and which I snagged to put here as much for posterity as for the info and perspective they provide.

Death Alley were supporting and continue to support their 2015 Tee Pee Records debut, Black Magick Boogieland (review here), but I wouldn’t be surprised if they started to move further past it in the New Year. Already this past summer they had new material on-hand at The Obelisk All-Dayer in Brooklyn, which as it happens was captured on video by Frank Huang.

Covering the US and Europe, respectively, Tee Pee Records and Suburban Records are collaborating on the release. Whether you preorder or wait until February, don’t be a chump and miss out:

death alley live at roadburn 2016

Death Alley – Live at Roadburn 2016

Death Alley to release ‘Live at Roadburn 2016’ on February 24 via Suburban (Europe) and Tee Pee Records (USA).

We’ll be releasing our ‘Death Alley – Live at Roadburn’ early next year on Suburban Records & Tee Pee Records!

Pre-order Europe: http://hyperurl.co/DA-LAR-EU
Pre-order USA: http://hyperurl.co/DA-LAR-USA

Show dates include:
12 January 2017 – VERA, Groningen (Eurosonic festival)
4 March 2017 – Scumbash Festival, Rotterdam
9 March 2017 – EKKO, Utrecht (Death Alley6: Roadburn release show)
10 March 2017 – Neushoorn, Leeuwarden (Death Alley6: Roadburn release show)
31 March 2017 – Gebouw T, Bergen op Zoom
…and (many) more to be announced.

Liner notes by Walter Roadburn:

Sweet music can move you, captivate you, stop your motion, bring you to your knees, and make you cry. This all happened to me when Death Alley & Friends took it to the stage at Roadburn 2016 on Friday, April 15 – and that has all been captured on this record, Death Alley’s first ever live-album.

Normally, I don’t see that many bands at Roadburn, let alone a full show, because I’m too busy behind the scenes. Sometimes I allow myself to see a little bit, and it’s no secret that I love Death Alley, so I took the liberty to watch as much of their set as I could.

The moment I got in the Green Room, Death Alley floored me – their performance was magical. The entire audience were nodding their heads in unison, and it seemed to me that everything that Death Alley had envisaged over the past few years fell into to place that very moment.

It was such an emotive performance, particularly when they invited Astrosoniq-guitarist Ron van Herpen (formerly of The Devil’s Blood), and Mühr’s Jevin de Groot to join them. Meanwhile, I heard the production staff calling me in my headset, but instead of responding, I turned it off – nothing could keep me away from this, and I moved down the front to totally immerse myself in the amazing jams, imagining that those who saw the Allman Brothers Band, Grand Funk and Grateful Dead in the early 70s felt the very same.

Seeing Oeds and Ron (and Jevin too) trading those amazing solos, brought back so many memories about The Devil’s Blood, and for many in attendance, it seemed that Selim Lemouchi’s spirit loomed large over the Green Room – so many tears were shed, including from yours truly. But it was tears of joy as well, as I simply couldn’t believe how much Death Alley have matured since their incarnation, and they have become such an exciting band to watch.

I felt so immensely proud of them, but was also very moved that they played this pivitol set at Roadburn – it was such a personal highpoint of the 2016 festival for me. Dennis, Douwe, Ming and Oeds Beydals– thank you from the bottom of my heart for being part of Roadburn’s legacy, bringing out Ron and Jevin, and feeling so inspired by the festival. You guys inspire me so much as well, and that inspiration spurs me on with Roadburn.

Every time when I listen to the album, I will remember clearly the moment I looked Douwe straight in the eyes during the show. I won’t forget seeing so many people surrounding me being fully entranced by the show. For those listening to the album right now – I hope you feel equally inspired by Death Alley, as their music is all about communication, and feelin’ good – just as it should be! Please embrace this gift – it’s rare!

Walter/Roadburn, November 2016.

http://deathalleyband.tumblr.com/
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http://teepeerecords.com/products/death-alley-live-at-roadburn-out-february-24th
https://suburban.nl/product/death-alley-live-at-roadburn

Death Alley, “It’s On” live at The Obelisk All-Dayer

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Peter Pan Speedrock Announce Retirement

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 1st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Can this possibly stick? Am I crazy for thinking that after 20 years, Dutch trio Peter Pan Speedrock might not just be able to put the band down and walk away? It’s like slamming into a brick wall at 100 miles an hour. I mean, right now and for the last couple nights, they’re in Japan. They toured in the US back in October. They’ve got an extensive run through Europe set up for before and after the New Year. Granted, they might need a break, but I have to think that sooner or later Peter Pan Speedrock will pick up again and continue their assault. It’s what Motörhead would do.

Until I hear otherwise though, they’re calling it a retirement. News came down the PR wire:

peter pan speedrock (Photo by Brendy Wijdeven)

Peter Pan Speedrock announce retirement and plan international farewell tour for 2016

“It was loud, mean, fast & dirty”

An international farewell tour in 2016 will be the last chapter in the saga of the loudest band from the Lowlands. Dreams came true, goals were achieved, Peter Pan Speedrock had their say and left their mark, so the book may close. After twenty years it’s time for singer-guitarist Peter van Elderen, bassist Bartmann and drummer Bart Nederhand to embark on new endeavors. Meanwhile the Dutch speed rockers take off again, for their Japanese tour starts on November 27.

The farewell marks the end of an era, because Peter Pan Speedrock are more than a band. This force of nature is a counterweight for Holland’s lack of earthquakes and hurricanes. Since PPSR arose from Eindhoven in 1996, the sonic landscape in the Netherlands has been shaken up and blown to smithereens. This relentless approach eventually gained PPSR worldwide recognition. Alas their roller coaster ride will come to an end somewhere in 2016.

While they are flying to Japan, the three Lighttown diehards are probably reminiscing about a long and lively career. In 1996 they had a damn good feeling about the road ahead, but no-one foresaw it would lead Peter Pan Speedrock across the length and breadth of Europe numerous times, cut through by tours in North America and Australia. To top it all PPSR instigated the grand slam of rock on Dutch soil: Speedfest. Last Saturday this annual international festivalhalla celebrated its tenth anniversary.

With over 25 releases under their belt PPSR are still on top of their game: supercharging their own brand of rock & roll vigor and winning crowds over by playing scorching live shows. Initially they strived to play 2247 shows, as much shows as the Ramones, but the counter will stop at around 2000 shows next year. If that’s the only unreached objective, it must have been a wild and wonderful ride. And the million visitors who witnessed PPSR live over the years will agree. Let’s drink to that with some Speedrock Premium Heavy Lager. That’s right, PPSR even have their own beer brand as part of their legacy.

No matter what the future holds, Peter Pan Speedrock shall ring on forever and a day!

Peter Pan Speedrock tour dates:
27.11 – Nutty’s (Machida, Japan)
28.11 – Vertex (Yokkaichi, Japan)
29.11 – Gramhouse (Ina, Japan)
30.11 – Metro (Kyoto, Japan)
1.12 – Varit (Kobe, Japan)
2.12 – Hokage (Osaka-Shi, Japan)
3.12 – Huckfin (Nagano, Japan)
4.12- Sunash (Shizuoka, Japan)
5.12- Earhdom (Tokyo, Japan)
11.12 – Rock School Barbey (Bordeaux, France)
12.12 – Secret Place (Saint Jean de Vedas, France)
13.12 – Le Mars Attack (Angouleme, France)
17.12 – Gleis 22 (Munster, Germany)
18/12 – Hafenklang (Hamburg, Germany)
19.12 – East Club (Bischofswerda Germany)
15.1 – dB’s (Utrecht, Netherlands)
20.1 – La Scene Michelet (Nantes, France)
21.1 – Sala Sidecar (Barcelona, Spain)
22.1 – King Kong Club (Zaragoza, Spain)
23.1 – Libertados (Leon, Spain)
24.1 – le Bukowski (San Sebastian, Spain)
26.1 – Sala Son (Pontevedra, Spain)
28.1 – King Creole (Estepona, Spain)
29.1 – Gruta 77 (Madrid, Spain)
30.1 – Hell Dorado (Vitoria, Spain)
31.1 – Edaska (San Vicente De Barakaldo, Spain)
1.2 – Le Tigre (Selestat, France)
12.2 – Patronaat (Haarlem, Netherlands)
13.2 – Neushoorn (Leeuwarden, Netherlands)
26.2 – Café Nord (Essen, Germany)
27.2 Westwerk (Osnabruck, Germany)
17.3 Club 007 (Prague, Czech Republic)
18.3 Groovestation (Dresden, Germany)
19.3 Lido (Berlin, Germany)

https://www.facebook.com/peterpanspeedrock/
http://www.peterpanspeedrock.nl/
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http://www.shopturbojugend.com/category/selfdestructorecords

Peter Pan Speedrock, Live at Speedfest, Eindhoven, Nov. 21, 2015

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Shaking Godspeed Post Hand-Drawn Video for “She’s Young”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 5th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

shaking godspeed

I feel like 25 years ago I definitely wouldn’t have needed to point out that the animation in Shaking Godspeed‘s video for “She’s Young” is hand-drawn, but then again, 25 years ago I’d be watching it on tv while flipping back and forth between after-school cartoons, blowing off my second-grade homework and waiting 20 minutes to download illicit jpegs on AOL — even then, I was a multitasker. And come to think of it, Shaking Godspeed would probably be too young to hold guitars. Times change, is the point, but it’s admirable that though it would’ve probably been easier and cheaper for the video’s Paris-based director, Alice Seay, to work in digital design, she went with hand-drawn images, resulting in a natural feel.

That suits the song “She’s Young” and the vibrant feel Shaking Godspeed bring to the track, which comes from their 2014 Suburban Records long-player, Welcome Back Wolf. There’s a jangly kind of swing to it, but crisp and definitely a studio vibe. You can hear the organic-sounding room echo in the vocals of guitarist/vocalist Wout Kemkens, who takes the lead here backed by guitarist/vocalist Rocco Ostermann, bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Alex van Damme and drummer Maarten Rischen, and though it’s all clear sounding, there’s nothing missing for heft either as the track plays out its self-consciously lovelorn feel.

Shaking Godspeed provide some background on Seay‘s work and on the song itself in the PR wire info following the video below:

Shaking Godspeed, “She’s Young” official video

MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND HANDMADE IMAGES IN NEW SHAKING GODSPEED VIDEO

To the people who are convinced that there is no room for some old-fashioned manual crafting among the contemporary digital copy-paste era, meet visual artist Alice Saey. The Parisian artist spent the last six months designing and coloring in over 2000 individual handmade images. After it all got digitally animated, her work subsequently transformed in to the psychedelic tripvideo for Shaking Godspeed’s song She’s Young.

Even though there is no lack of female presence in the clip – from sensual long-haired temptresses to heroic amazons in a fierce battle with the elements- the lyrics come down to one lady in particular, singer/guitarist Wout Kemkens’ muse. “She’s Young is a homage to a girl. It’s mainly about the time when she still was a complete mystery to me. A sheer act of idolatry.This is the only, and last, love song I shall ever write”.

Alice Saey’s work is known for being a quirky mix of graphic design, illustration and animation. Her portfolio contains magazine- and poster designs, videos, artwork, VJ-work and animations. Her first animated short film Celui Qui Manea Un Œil De Poisson got awarded with a Pflimlin-prize in 2014. Shortly after that she received degree in Graphic Arts at The School Of Art in Straatsburg. She currently works as an independent designer in Paris and Rotterdam.

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Monomyth Announce February UK Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 11th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

monomyth

Netherlands-based progressive instrumentalists Monomyth will head out on a UK tour in February to support their second album, Further. Their 2013 self-titled debut (review here) was a psych-prog joy to behold, and though I cried a little bit when I heard the Den Haag outfit had a second one and I didn’t get a copy to review — inner-tears, like any clown — they’ve nonetheless got a cause worth heralding. Seems like they’re doing so in style as well, with a lightshow and their own audio engineer and so on, giving a full experience to the shows, a couple of which have yet to be confirmed.

The tour is presented by Buried in Smoke, who announced it thusly:

monomyth further

Monomyth (NL) UK Tour

Buried in Smoke are proud to present: MONOMYTH (NL) (Suburban Records)

Monomyth is a journey in sound, a psychedelic space/kraut rock journey designed to transport their audience to another state of being…

Hailing from the Hague in The Netherlands, the intention was for Monomyth to be an instrumental rock band. The members also wanted to present their music as a total experience, a collective statement from five very diverse people which include a producer, a sound technician, a monitor mixer, a lighting engineer, a DJ and a sonologist.

MONOMYTH will drag you inside their cosmic playground. Enter an arena where there is no more time or space, simply the vacuum in which communication is operated on a higher level. You can enter in two ways . . . simply by closing your eyes and letting the instrumental music transport you, or with eyes wide open as you descend into the mind staggering light show.

Tour dates:

Thurs 19th Feb – The Moon Club, Cardiff
Fri 20th Feb – Tbc, Oxford
Sat 21st Feb – The Anvil, Bournemouth
Sun 22nd Feb – tbc
Mon 23rd Feb – The Macbeth, London
Tues 24th Feb – The Compass, Chester
Wed 25th Feb – Alfie Birds, Birmingham
Thurs 26th Feb – Bannermans, Edinburgh
Fri 27th Feb – tbc

http://www.monomyththeband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/events/653292731450210/

Monomyth, Further (2014)

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Shaking Godspeed Post “Future Boogie” Video; New Album Due this Fall

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 8th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Based out of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, the heavy rocking four-piece Shaking Godspeed released their last full-length on Drakkar Records in 2013. Hoera and Awe combined two prior releases — Hoera and Awe, go figure — into one double-album that was a solid listen and emphasized the quality of songwriting in Shaking Godspeed‘s approach, but might’ve been a bit much for listeners just getting on board. Their current single, the Future Boogie b/w Tombstone Talk 7″ on Suburban Records, pressed in cardboard sleeves with hand-screened logos on the cover, makes for a much more gradual introduction.

The song reportedly (and by that I mean according to the band and I don’t think they’d lie about this kind of thing) deals with themes of technology and the seemingly inevitable advent of artificial intelligence. Presumably that’s what the young lady in the video is running from and is eventually overtaken by, her eyes going black as she becomes a hybrid android/human. Fair enough. “Future Boogie” will feature on Shaking Godspeed‘s forthcoming long-player, Welcome Back Wolf, which is set to release this fall, and the single will be officially released on May 10. Preorder link and more info follows the clip below.

Enjoy:

Shaking Godspeed, “Future Boogie” official video

Future Boogie is available as a 7” vinyl single via Suburban: http://tinyurl.com/nha7mul

The song is also featured on the forthcoming album Welcome Back Wolf by Shaking Godspeed. To be released September 2014.

Heavily inspired by The singularity is near (Ray Kurzweil) they wrote the song Future Boogie. This book sketches the end of the human race as we know it and the birth of the hybrid technologic new human being in 2045. No sci-fi, but soon to be reality!

Fascinated by all the new technological and cultural developments the group understood that keep hanging in the past, old heroes and rusty opinions are almost an insult to their brains. Their new album Welcome Back Wolf, recorded live in a deserted factory, provides ground to Shaking Godspeed’s own slightly deranged views and sincere emotions.

Shaking Godspeed’s website

Shaking Godspeed on Thee Facebooks

Shaking Godspeed on Twitter

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Recommended Buried Treasure Pt. 6-IV: Astrosoniq, Speeder People

Posted in Buried Treasure on February 4th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

It’s somehow fitting to end this Buried Treasure series on Dutch rockers Astrosoniq‘s discography with the album that was recommended in the first place. Not just because I’m a jackass who bought Soundgrenade when it should have been Speeder People and now I’m trying to make it seem like it’s all worked out anyway — because I know I most definitely am that jackass — but also for Speeder People‘s direct continuity with the latest Astrosoniq full-length, Quadrant (review here), which initially inspired me to check out the band’s other releases.

But although I’d say it’s worked out pretty well in the end, it was definitely a long road to get here. From Soundgrenade, back to the 2000 Son of A.P. Lady debut, jumping ahead to 2005’s Made in Oss, and interviewing drummer Marcel van de Vondervoort last month, it’s been an awful lot of Astrosoniq around these parts. The funny thing about it: the more I listen, the less I feel like I know. Don’t get me wrong, after listening to the entire full-length catalog multiple times over, I’d call myself familiar with the band’s work for sure, and a fan, but there’s still a lot to learn here.

Speeder People genre hops with unsettling ease. From the dark lounge and female guest vocals of “Lonely Woman” toward the 70-minute release’s midsection to the sci-fi samples spread throughout, the spaced-out feel of “Orbital Relay,” the swing in “Lipstick Traces,” the goofball country guitar of “Hot Chick” (which, unlike the preceding “Rocket Science,” isn’t actually about a hot chick), and the speed-metal-into-funk and winding tones of closer “Quadrant EL 6500/It’s Monster Surfin’ Time” that show up on Quadrant opener “Faustian Bargain,” there is at least one fuckload — maybe two fuckloads — of ideas to digest on Speeder People. I’ll definitely pass the recommendation on that came to me from reader Mathieu gave to me, but man, if you’re going to tackle this album, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Three track titles end in exclamation points — “Cold Hearted Guys, Like Us, Like it Loud!” “Godeater!” and “Red ‘Uns Go Fasta!” — which only adds to the charm, and in comparing Speeder People to the rest of the Astrosoniq catalog, I’d say it solidifies some of the weirdo elements of Made in Oss and sets up the refinement process that pays off on Quadrant, at once fitting well between the two and having no shortage of appeal on its own. The samples sprinkled throughout, varied as they are, do a lot to tie the songs together, though to be perfectly honest, by now I don’t blink twice when one track has a different sound than the next. That’s just what Astrosoniq does, and they’re ridiculously good at it.

And that, I suppose, is what I’ve learned more than anything else while exploring their catalog. Rampant experimentation? A seemingly endless creative drive offset by thick heavy rock grooves? Well, that’s just Astrosoniq being Astrosoniq. They did it on the first album, and they’ve only gotten better at it since. If you’re looking for a place to start, I’d say go with Quadrant, the latest album, and work your way back. Wherever you pick up the thread, though, what you should understand is that the brilliant turns you’re hearing didn’t happen overnight. They’ve been there all along. Keep that in mind and your adventure can only get better.

[Special thanks to Astrosoniq manager Bidi for sending me Speeder People. It was the perfect way to end this series.]

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