Posted in Whathaveyou on March 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Newly signed to Tee Pee Records, Chicago-based Trouble offshoot The Skull have announced that they’ve added former Trouble bassist Chuck Robinson on guitar alongside Lothar Keller and a lineup of former Trouble luminaries: bassist Ron Holzner, vocalist Eric Wagner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson. Shortly lived as a four-piece, The Skull have two songs in the can recorded by Billy Anderson set to release in Spring, with a full-length slated to follow later in the year.
It’s also been revealed that The Skull will appear at Montreal’s Wings of Metal festival, playing full sets, one comprised of Trouble‘s Psalm 9in its entirety to mark the album’s 30th anniversary. The PR wire has details:
THE SKULL’s New Guitarist Revealed
There is now more “Trouble” for THE SKULL – the new band featuring original TROUBLE members vocalist Eric Wagner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson alongside TROUBLE’s longtime bassist Ron Holzner and SACRED DAWN guitarist Lothar Keller – as they have recruited former TROUBLE bassist Chuck Robinson as their new dueling guitar player.
Drummer and keyboardist Jeff “Oly” Olson comments: “We are excited and honored that Chuck Robinson has accepted our invitation to join the band. He is the perfect fit for THE SKULL. I’ve always enjoyed rehearsing with Chuck as he is disciplined with his art. He’ll surely bring a bonus to the band with his experience as a former TROUBLE member and as a seasoned musician who utilizes both his talented song writing ability and his exceptional recording skills. We are looking forward to tour with our brother again.”
Olson added, “Chuck is more than a bass player. He grew up playing guitar with his father, also a very talented guitarist. Eric, Ron, Lothar, and myself know that Chuck is more than capable for the job. He’ll bring chops with a heavy groove to our debut album, as well as bring his charisma to the stage.”
THE SKULL has confirmed the following three shows. More shows will be added for North America and Europe in the coming weeks.
May 09 – Cleveland, Ohio – The Grog Shop May 10 – Chicago, Illinois – Reggies August 29 – Montreal, Canada – The Wings of Metal Festival
The Wings of Metal Festival will be a headlining performance consisting of two sets. The first set will be a performance of TROUBLE’s 1984 debut album “Psalm 9” in it’s entirety. The second set will include a performance of newly recorded songs as well as TROUBLE classics.
As previously reported, THE SKULL has inked a deal with Tee Pee Records and has recently recorded two songs with acclaimed producer/engineer Billy Anderson (MELVINS, NEUROSIS) which will see the light of day this spring. THE SKULL will follow the release of the new songs with its debut full length LP, tentatively slated for release this autumn.
THE SKULL is: Eric Wagner – vocals Jeff “Oly” Olson – drums/keys Ron Holzner – bass Lothar Keller – guitar Chuck Robinson – guitar
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Fascinating news today that Trouble-offshoot The Skull have inked a deal to release their debut album on Tee Pee Records. The Skull‘s traditional doom is something of a step aside for the label, which has focused in recent years on psychedelia and retro-style heavy punk, but a cool fit either way. As the PR wire informs, The Skull recently tracked two songs with Billy Anderson that will be issued as the first studio audio from the band.
Looking forward to hearing this one:
THE SKULL Signs to Tee Pee Records
New Band Featuring Members of Doom Metal Pioneers TROUBLE Set to Release New Music
THE SKULL — the new band featuring original members Eric Wagner (vocals) and Jeff “Oly” Olson (drums) of American doom metal legends TROUBLE alongside longtime TROUBLE bassist Ron Holzner and SACRED DAWN guitarist Lothar Keller — have inked a deal with Tee Pee Records, the NYC record label known for releasing landmark albums from acts such as High on Fire, Graveyard, Earthless and Sleep.
THE SKULL recently recorded two songs with acclaimed producer / engineer Billy Anderson (Melvins, Neurosis) which will see the light of day this spring. “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is a doomy metal song written by Keller, Holzner and Wagner that showcases the genre pioneers’ distinct style while “The Last Judgement” is a “revisiting” of the classic TROUBLE song of the same name that originally appeared on the classic 1983 “Metal Massacre IV” compilation album.
“I think “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is the perfect song for The Skull to lead with and there’s a reason why it was the first song we completed as a band,” commented Wagner. “It’s about coming to a point in life when it’s just time for a new beginning, a fresh start if you will, and finally coming to terms with the past. Being that it is the 30th anniversary of the release of the song “The Last Judgement” — the first song we ever released — we thought it fit perfectly for the B-side and considering what “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is about, it made sense to me. You have to go through your past to get to your future.”
THE SKULL will follow the release of the new songs with its debut full length LP, tentatively slated for release this autumn.
Follow THE SKULL online and via Facebook for breaking news and tour information.
I was fortunate to be skinny enough at the time to get into SXSW and see Witch play around the release of their 2006 self-titled debut. I still also have the promo of the CD. During that era, Tee Pee sent out full jewel case promos, with a grey back card, no cover. It was a while before I saw what the album actually looked like, but I played the shit out of that disc and still hear the riff to “Seer” that opens the record in my head on the regular. Some songs just plant themselves in your brain and never leave. A dreamy vibe thanks to KyleThomas‘(Feathers) vocal drawl and the ultra-dirty fuzz of Graham Clise, it’s a record whose influence you can see in bands coming out now, maybe more in Europe than the States, but it’s out there.
They had some indie cred in their early going thanks to Dinosaur Jr.‘s J. Mascis playing drums — his kick at those SXSW shows was pretty much living room-sized — but I cared way less about that than the vibe of Witchitself. With Dave Sweetapple on bass who’s kicked around in a couple Tee Pee bands since, including Sweet Apple, they were a foursome to be reckoned with. Their second album, 2008′s Paralyzed, didn’t resonate on nearly the same level with me, but Witch‘s potency as endured to the point of playing Roadburn in 2012 at the behest of Voivod. Because who could ever say no to Voivod? Not me. I went and they didn’t even ask.
But whatever its enduring legacy/influence/whatever might be, Witch‘s self-titled has unfuckwithable vibe, and that’s timeless as far as I’m concerned. As always, hope you enjoy.
Boy, hello Massachusetts. Come for the blistering cold, stay for the two feet of snow. I’ll admit I was more than a little excited when the top story on the BBC last night was about the East Coast weather and I got to say “I live there!” when I read about how “one town in Massachusetts” got hit with 20-plus inches. Today was all about drifts and wind and digging out. Also reviewing Truckfighters. Managed to sneak that one in there, much to my delight. It came at the expense of posting the Top 10 Albums I Didn’t Hear in 2013 — the LAST of the 2013 lists, I promise. I’m scrapping posts for “Comeback of the Year” (Monster Magnet) and my favorite live act (Kings Destroy), because enough is enough. Time to move on… to the Albums to Watch for in 2014 list. What am I, fucking Buzzfeed?
So anyway, it felt good to post something that wasn’t a numerical ordering of stuff that ruled, though that’s fun too, and next week I hope to get some more reviews up as we settle back into post-holiday reality. Right now I’m thinking Insider and Foghound and if I have time, Blackfinger, but I don’t want to let the aforementioned Albums to Watch for in 2014 linger too long or they’ll all be released. I’ll see what I can do. Time is precious and gone quickly.
Going a little stir-crazy though, as I’ve been inside all week, so I think The Patient Mrs. and I are going to head out for a bit tonight. There’s a theater in Boston playing Aliens at midnight, and I’m not about to turn something like that down. I expect much Vasquez-high-fiving and Bill Paxton quoting to ensue. Game over, man. Game over.
Hope you enjoy your weekend and if you’re somewhere that got snowed in, hope digging out isn’t too much of a pain in the ass. Have fun, be safe (in that order) and we’ll see you back here Monday for more tunes and good times.
Until then, please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Reviews on November 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Since the time change, it’s been getting dark at around 5PM, which means that as I made my way out west on the Masspike to Florence to see Blaak Heat Shujaa and Mirror Queen at the pleasantly-named JJ’s Tavern, it was too dark to enjoy the late-fall scenery. Too bad, as that’s some good forest. Anyone interested in demographic study might do well to take a look at how hardcore did so well up here in the ’90s instead of black metal. I’d suspect it has to do with socioeconomic factors — a hardcore 7″ is cheap and Norwegian LPs would’ve meant paying import prices; with its roots in zealotry, Massachusetts maintains a healthy love of its working class foundations — but from the bare branches to the legacy of witch burnings, it seems like someone would’ve put some corpsepaint on by now and given the misty Pacific Northwest a run for its money. So it goes.
I had time to consider these things on the drive to Florence (my grandmother’s name) and JJ’s Tavern (my name), which was a solid two hours. Both bands would be in Providence, Rhode Island, the next night, which is only half as far away, but I had other obligations and didn’t want to miss Blaak Heat Shujaa, who were making an overdue first appearance on the Eastern Seaboard in support of their sophomore full-length and Tee Pee long-play debut, The Edge of an Era(review here). The young desert rock trio from Los Angeles via Paris were partnered up for the excursion with NYC labelmates Mirror Queen, whose own style of grooving has become familiar at shows this year with The Atomic Bitchwax and Truckfighters (see here and here). There were four bands on the bill, but by the time I arrived at JJ’s, local radio rockers Odds of Eden were on as the second of four, which meant that Mirror Queen weren’t far behind.
Drummer Jeremy O’Brien was local to the area, so there was a familial contingent present in the short-ceilinged upstairs space — almost a loft, with a bar in another little room to the side and pool tables in back — as Mirror Queen got going. Lead guitarist Phi Moon and bassist James Corallo had played Brooklyn two weekends prior as members of Polygamyst, who opened for Orange Goblin at the St. Vitus bar (review here), and it hadn’t been that long anyway since I last caught Mirror Queen, so although I felt like I knew what I was getting, that didn’t make their set any less enjoyable, whether it was the Cream-y riffing of “Scaffold of the Skies” or the catchy and insistent chorus of “Vagabondage.” Guitarist/vocalistKenny Sehgal set up to the far right-side of the stage, and Moon and Corallo had plenty of room to rock out their parts in classic fashion.
And there was a twist! I’d anticipated they’d close with the Captain Beyond cover “Mesmerization Eclipse,” as they have the last couple times I’ve seen them, but no dice. Instead, they gave a take on Iron Maiden‘s “Phantom of the Opera” for their finishing move, and it only emphasized for me how tight their jams are at this point. Sehgal and O’Brien have been playing together going back to their days as Aytobach Kreisor, whose self-titled debut was issued on Rubric Records in 2002, but with Moon‘s swaggering solos and the sheer enjoyment for playing that Corallo brings to his work on bass, Mirror Queen seem all the more solid at the base of their sonic fluidity. I’ve yet to catch a set and be bummed out, and though I’d been looking forward to a little Captain Beyond, the Maiden worked just fine in its place.
Between reviews, video premieres, track premieres, interviews, news posts and whatever else I can’t think of at the moment (it’s all here), I’ve said an awful lot about Blaak Heat Shujaa the last couple years, and I was greatly anticipating seeing them play live. The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier, bassist Antoine Morel-Vulliez and drummer Mike Amster were surprisingly loud once they got going. Considerable volume. The effect was to make their sound even fuller than on the record, and give Bellier a task in letting his effects-laden vocals cut through the tones surrounding. Those tones, it’s worth emphasizing, were gorgeous. As much of a role as Morel-Vulliez‘s bass plays in setting the mood on The Edge of an Era, live it is all the more a foundational element, and Amster‘s drumming has a vitality behind it that a studio album would be hard-pressed to convey. Everything I’ve enjoyed about the band since I caught wind of their 2010 self-titled debut (review here) was only more prevalent in their stage presentation.
That’s especially true of some of their more subdued stretches. With Amster keeping a steady intensity to his tom runs even as Morel-Vulliez and Bellier set about the purposefully meandering jams of the “The Beast” two-parter which Bellier announced as “the first side of our new record,” smirking in full awareness of just how awesome that sounds to say, there was a sense of build that came across as hypnotic in its repetitions and still consciously focused on movement forward. This made the payoff in that progression all the more of one. It was gratifying to see, not just because I enjoyed the album, but because what the album seemed to be hinting that the band could do was right there on stage at full blast. Their jamming was jazz-tight and the surf rock in Bellier‘s guitar acknowledged the roots of the desert that Blaak Heat Shujaa has adopted as their home. Whether it was “Society of Barricades” or the closing sprawl of “Land of the Freaks, Home of the Brave,” I was really, really glad to have made the trip to see them play.
My new appreciation for their songs in tow, I split out of JJ’s Tavern when Blaak Heat Shujaa were done and made my way back east along the same route I’d taken west to get there. At around 1:40AM, still an hour out, I got pulled over doing 81 in a 65 and got a ticket. 16 miles over the limit at $10 a mile had me cursing the rest of the way, but traffic violations come and go, and nights like this one leave longer impressions than dents in a checking account.
You’ll probably find your own favorite moment in Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s new video for the 11-minute “The Obscurantist Fiend (The Beast Pt. I).” Maybe it’s when the band put on creepy animal masks and stalk through the woods. Or maybe it’s seeing them talking on office phones in the cosmic shame of a corporate-dayjob. All valid choices, but for me, it’s gotta be the point where, about halfway through, our be-suited protagonist calls 9-1-1 and gets a text back from “The Beast” and all it says is “You Are Fucked.” Brilliant. It’s the best use of a cellphone in a video since Infernal Overdrive‘s “Duel,” which was a while ago at this point.
“The Obscurantist Fiend (The Beast Pt. I)” comes from Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s sophomore outing and full-length Tee Pee Records debut, The Edge of an Era(review here), and the new video was directed by Andrew Baxter and Cole Jenkins, who previously helmed the documentary web-series aired here about the recording of the album with Scott Reeder, as well as the clip for “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” from the preceding The Storm Generation EP (review here). Boasting a couple different locales — first they’re in the desert, then they’re in the woods, then they’re in front of the Los Angeles skyline — and some choice free-your-mind desert rock preaching, the clip is a winner all around.
Blaak Heat Shujaa are coming east for a run of dates in support of The Edge of an Era, and you can find them swiped from the prior announcement under the video below. Enjoy:
Blaak Heat Shujaa, “The Obscurantist Fiend (The Beast Pt. I)” official video
Blaak Heat Shujaa Northeast Tour: 11/08 Glasslands, Brooklyn NY 11/09 Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia PA 11/10 The Pinch, Washington DC 11/11 Mojo Main, Newark DE 11/12 Brillobox, Pittsburgh PA 11/13 CFC, Montréal QC, Canada 11/14 JJ’s Tavern, Florence MA 11/15 AS220, Providence RI 11/16 Cake Shop, New York NY
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Attention fuzzdudes and fuzzladies: The new Truckfighters EP is available to pre-order. If you’re having trouble receiving this message, then check your fuzztenna. Repeat: Truckfighters‘ The ChairmanEP can now be pre-ordered in a special edition through Last Hurrah Records — who, it should be noted, have also gone suitably all out in the packaging, what with the 12″ 45RPM vinyl and the variations on the colors with mixtures of opaque and transluscent. I’m not sure what the difference between “Desert Sunset” and “Desert Sunrise” might be, but I don’t mind the excuse to pick up an extra copy and find out.
Truckfighters are on tour in Europe now — dates below — and the EP is limited to 500 copies in the Last Hurrah edition. Check it out:
Pre-orders are now available for the Truckfighters The Chairman Special Edition EP multi-colored vinyl 12-inch. Sweden’s Truckfighters blaze an incendiary trail through high desert plains and mountains of stoner rock. Presented at 45 RPM for best possible sound quality, The Chairman Special Edition contains over 30 minutes of power “fuzz” and features the title track plus three live songs recorded on tour in Australia earlier this year.
The jacket cover artwork has spot UV gloss, spot PMS, and silver metallic ink designed by artist Lindsey Kuhn.
The 12-inch vinyl comes in two different vinyl colors: Desert Sunset and Desert Sunrise, each a mix of oqaque and translucent colors, limited to 500 copies (250 of each color).
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m stoked I’ll get to see Blaak Heat Shujaa. I guess that’s what it really comes down to as regards the announcement below that the L.A.-based desert rock trio are hitting the East Coast for the first time. Yeah, it’s cool that they’re continuing to support The Edge of an Era (review here), their 2013 full-length debut on Tee Pee Records, and even cooler that they’re doing it in front of new audiences, but basically, they’re a band I’ve dug for a while now and I’m glad I’ll have the chance to watch them playing their songs live. I get jaded pretty easily, so it’s nice to just be stoked for a show every now and again.
I know some of these gigs are with Mirror Queen and that Queen Elephantine are playing the Rhode Island show, so if you in any of the areas where the tour is rolling through, make sure you check out who else is on the bill. The band sent the info for the tour down the PR wire, and I decided to toss in “Pelham Blue” from The Edge of an Era, just thankful to have an excuse to revisit Mario Lalli‘s guest spot.
We are happy to announce that heavy psychedelic trio Blaak Heat Shujaa (Los Angeles, CA) will play nine US East Coast shows this November.
After their triumphant return from a month long European tour that saw the band perform in 14 different countries alongside label-mates Spindrift, Blaak Heat Shujaa will set on their first US East Coast tour to further support their sophomore release, The Edge Of An Era (out on Tee Pee Records).
11/08 Glasslands, Brooklyn NY 11/09 Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia PA 11/10 The Pinch, Washington DC 11/11 Mojo Main, Newark DE 11/12 Brillobox, Pittsburgh PA 11/13 CFC, Montréal QC, Canada 11/14 JJ’s Tavern, Florence MA 11/15 AS220, Providence RI 11/16 Cake Shop, New York NY
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Brooklyn space/psych rockers Naam are once again taking to European shores in support of their (inter)stellar 2013 album, Vow (review here). The hard-working four-piece already put in considerable road time in Europe this spring, and that run was followed by a complete six-week coast-to-coast slog through the US — they killed in Manhattan on the opening night — that ended in mid-August. Doubtless a little time out of the van has done them some good, but as excellent as the swirl they enacted at the start of the last tour was, I wouldn’t want to miss them for a much-needed injection of warmth this winter.
More dates are reportedly coming, but here’s what’s been announced so far — note the Winter Void fest in Germany (they’ll play with Camera and Fire Walk with Me, among others presumably to be announced) and dates alongside Mars Red Sky and Monkey3. It certainly looks like plenty and I’m sure will become even more considerable as the dates fill in.
NAAM European Winter Tour 2013
November 21 – December 20
More dates to be announced soon!
21.11 – BEL – Brussels – Salle Rogier w/ Mars Red Sky 23.11 – NL – Nijmegan- Merleyn 24.11 – GER – Wiesbaden – Schachthof w/ Monkey 3 25.11 – GER – Hamburg – Markthalle w/ Monkey 3 26.11 – GER – Cologne – Underground w/ Monkey 3 27.11 – GER – Wurzburg – Cairo 28.11 – GER – Berlin – Jaegerklause 29.11 – GER – Regensburg – Winter Void Festival 01.12 – GER – Munich – Orange House 02.12 – AUS – Vienna – Arena 03.12 – CH – Zurich – Mascotte 05.12 – ITA – Roma – Sinister Noise 06.12 – ITA – Bolonzo – Festival 07.12 – ITA – Vincenza – TBA 08.12 – CH – Lucerne – Sedel 09.12 – GER – Stuttgart – TBA 13.12 – GRC – Athens – Six D.O.G.S. 14.12 – GRC – Larissa – Stage Club
Where there are big rigs and fuzz, one must not be surprised to encounter Truckfighters. Sweden’s foremost deliverers of high-octane fuzz, fresh off a US tour, have today posted a new video for the eight-minute jammer “The Chairman,” from their upcoming EP of the same name. It’s the band’s first release in four years, so even more interesting to hear how they’ve progressed in that time from the riffy contemplations of Mania, and “The Chairman” finds the Örebro trio working in jazzy noodling guitars with the expected blast of energetic groove and underlying melody.
Seems like wherever these guys go sound-wise, they always manage to make it a good time. “The Chairman” will reportedly be joined by live tracks on the EP, but if this is the only taste we’re getting of new Truckfighters heading into 2014, which will hopefully bring a studio full-length, at least it’s a substantial one.
Truckfighters, “The Chairman” official video
NEW MUSIC: “THE CHAIRMAN” EP OUT IN OCTOBER
Us being lazy? Don’t you dare even thinking of it. We just finished a full EP, featuring the video track “The Chairman”. It does feature a fuzzy live recording of “Desert Cruiser” (taped in Australia this year) and will be released on a nice heavyweight 10″ vinyl outside the US. Release date is Oct 4th outside North America.
In the US, the EP will come as a 4track 12″ vinyl, carrying 3 lengthy live tracks along “The Chairman”. The US version will be out later in October as well.
The digital EP always comes with 4 tracks and is available by Oct 4!
ON TOUR !
King Kurt called it the road to rack’n'ruin back in the 80s … Well, we just call it our living room. This is where we feel at home: on stage.
Join us for our “Chairman-Tour” in October, conquering almost 20 places and cities.
02.10.13, [DE] LEIPZIG – UT Connewitz 03.10.13, [DE] ASCHAFFENBURG – Colos Saal 04.10.13, [DE] Dortmund – FZW (Visions Westend Festival) 05.10.13, [CH] Pratteln – Z7 (Up In Smoke Festival) 07.10.13, [FR] Nantes – Le Ferraeulier 08.10.13, [LX] Luxembourg – Rock Box 09.10.13, [NL] Rotterdam – Baroeg 10.10.13, [BE] Antwerp – Trix 11.10.13, [NL] Groningen – Vera 12.10.13, [DE] Siegen – Vortex 13.10.13, [DE] Karlsruhe – Alte Hackerei 15.10.13, [AT] Innsbruck – PMK 16.10.13, [IT ] Milan – Lo-Fi Club 17.10.13, [IT ] Bolzano – Point 18.10.13, [AT] Linz – Stattwerkstatt 19.10.13, [DE] Munich – Feierwerk 20.10.13, [DE] Bremen – Römer
Still not enough truckfighting live-mania?
Well, we will play sweden and Norway in November as well, Russia, too. And for next year, we promise you a totally filled calendar full of Truckfighters dates around the globe. Keep checking withtruckfighters.comand with the newsletter!
Posted in Reviews on August 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It hasn’t been as long as it can seem since last we heard from instrumental San Diego trio Earthless, whose last studio full-length was 2007′s Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky. The next year, they released Live at Roadburn (arguably their high-water mark to date), and since then, between a rerelease of 2005′s Sonic Prayer Jam, a 10th anniversary jam EP in 2012 and splits with Witch in 2008, Premonition 13/Radio Moscow in 2012 and While Hills in 2013, they haven’t been completely absent leading up to the issue of their third LP, From the Ages(Tee Pee Records), but there can be little doubt that the greater accomplishments of the band’s members during that stretch have taken place outside of Earthless itself. Notably, drummer Mario Rubalcaba joined forces with former Black Flag vocalist Keith Morris and members of Burning Brides and Redd Kross in OFF!, and also played in punk outfit Spider Fever, while guitarist Isaiah Mitchell made a stunning debut in 2012 with the self-titled Golden Void (review here), also taking on a vocal role that was new to those who knew him solely from his work in Earthless. All this led to speculation that Earthless were finished, but in terms of From the Ages, that just seems to mean that it arrives with all the more fanfare surrounding it; even as the first announcements were being made, the excitement was palpable that Mitchell and Rubalcaba had once again joined forces with bassist Mike Eginton for a studio offering. Comprised of four tracks totaling a solid hour of ripping classic rock jams, From the Agessays in a big way that in fact not only are Earthless not done, but that the vibrant spirit that rested at the heart of the original 2005 Sonic Prayerand the terrifying chemistry that showed itself on Live at Roadburnand put Earthless on the fast track to stoner-rock-legends status are well intact and still very much at the core of what the trio does. They remain instrumental for the duration (in case anyone was wondering if Mitchell might throw in some vocals post-Golden Void), and tap into a rare prowess and classic rock versatility throughout the four mostly-extended cuts, culminating in the 31-minute epic title-track.
I’m rarely one for double LPs, though Earthless have been consistent all along in their flair for the sonically and structurally grandiose, so it’s not at all unexpected that From the Ageswould arrive in that form, and to be fair, there isn’t really a way the album could work without all four of its pieces and still accomplish the same immersive feel. A double it is, then. Helping their case is the fact that each song leading up to the concluding “From the Ages” presents a personality of its own, whether it’s the solo-laden swirl of opener “Violence of the Red Sea” (14:46), the more restrained heavy psych of “Uluru Rock” (14:08), the exploratory vibing of shorter “Equus October” (5:43) or of course “From the Ages” (30:56) itself, which both ties the others together and expands the soundscape in much the way an earthquake might turn plains into mountains. Mitchell‘s guitar leads for most of the album’s duration — seeming especially forward as he rock-shreds solos on “Violence of the Red Sea” and “From the Ages” — but the story of From the Agesisn’t about any one of the three players nearly as much as it is about the exciting music they make in combination. As “Violence of the Red Sea” gets started, Earthless seem to be shaking off the dust of the years since Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky, almost winding themselves up, but they quickly lock in a groove brilliantly underscored by classy fills from Eginton and by the time they’re past the minute mark, so is the hook. The tones of Mitchell and Eginton, as captured by producer Phil Manley, are organic but not at the expense of clarity, and Rubalcaba‘s drums come through with a suitable wash of cymbal and pop in the snare, giving Fromthe Agesa fresh, still-punkish jam room feel. Effects are layered in, but the course is set, and the album carries on from the Red Sea to the other side of the world with “Uluru Rock,” named for the sandstone mass also known as Ayers Rock in Australia’s Northern Territory. As “Equus October” refers to a Roman ritual sacrifice to Mars, the God of War, and “From the Ages” is as grand in scale and scope as the jump from the Mideast to Australia is geographically, it should be clear that Earthless are thinking big in multiple dimensions — time and space, specifically. The music mirrors that. Eight minutes in, “Violence of the Red Sea” turns somewhat chaotic, but the course resumes with upbeat fervor, wah and riff colliding as the rhythm section holds firm to the ground its has established, keeping the whole thing from going off the rails of whatever means of interstellar conveyance it might be using for its journey. As the listener would have to expect, they finish in monumental style.
Posted in Reviews on August 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A four-band bill at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar after a full workday with a drive to Massachusetts afterwards lurking on the horizon, moving ever closer to reality — I will say immediately that attending the opening night of Truckfighters‘ latest US tour was probably the least responsible decision I’ll make all week. Well, maybe not, but still: Resoundingly irresponsible. Part of doing it was proving to myself that I could, and sure enough, I came out of it on the other end alive, despite the best efforts of I-95′s endless stretch to claim my heavy eyelids as part of its likewise endless stream of trophies. Behold, the living dope.
But if you have to be an eternal sucker, at least an act like Truckfighters put on a show to make it worth your while. The Swedish trio of bassist/vocalist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm, guitarist Niklas “Dango” Källgren and drummer Andre “Poncho” Kvarnström were joined by NYC locals Kings Destroy, Iron Tides and Mirror Queen on a surprisingly diverse and at times surprisingly aggressive lineup at the Vitus, and the night proved quickly to have been worth the commute there and back again. Mirror Queen, who were fresh back from a European jaunt with Tee Pee labelmates Earthless and The Atomic Bitchwax that included a stop at Stoned from the Underground sounded crisp and tight, and since the last time I saw them was on the Rocks off Concert Cruise in June, part of the fun this time out was watching their set not get toppled by the choppy waters of the East River.
Not that that wasn’t its own kind of excitement, I’m just saying it’s a little easier to get a sense of the chemistry between lead guitarist Phi Moon and guitarist/vocalist Kenny Sehgal when they can stand up and play. That chemistry, as it happens, is formidable and was in top form at the Vitus bar, Moon tearing into technically and spiritually engaging press-me-to-8-track classic rock solos on the right side of the stage while Sehgal, bassist James Corallo and drummer Jeremy O’Brien jammed out on “Into the Nebula” from the band’s 2011 outing, From Earth Below. A contingent of (apparently Australian?) bros in the front of the stage wearing red Truckfighters tanktops quickly let it be known they were going to be the biggest douchebags in the room for the duration, and much sweaty man-on-man-but-supposedly-not-at-all-homoerotic moshing and grabassery did ensue.
That didn’t impede enjoyment of Mirror Queen, however, who round out as they did the last time I saw them with a jam on Captain Beyond‘s “Mesmerization Eclipse.” It’s a bouncing groove that’s always welcome in my cranium, but it did little in the end to foretell the aggression that would come with Brooklynites Iron Tides, who arrived with their own floodlites and an assortment of homemade-looking amps and cabinets — but for the Verellen heads behind bassist/vocalist Markus — to remind of the raw volume and power of earliest Zoroaster while keeping an underlying touch of New York noise in the jagged playing of guitarist Matt. They were loud, angry and, well, let’s go with “loud” again. Drummer Michele locked in impressive grooves throughout, and though Iron Tides had an EP for sale in the back (got it) that came out last year mixed and mastered by Hull drummer Jeff Stieber, most of what they played was reportedly new.
It was easy enough to guess that by Markus‘ remembering on stage who started what song, which gave their set a bit of humor and charm to go with its aggressive churning and tonal push. Their lights triggered by foot-switches, Iron Tides were nonetheless cohesive in their aesthetic and tight through the more angular aspects of their sound, which were complemented by stretches of ambience driven by Matt‘s guitar, sometimes seeming to nod at earlier Isis but never fully giving itself over to the heavy/atmospheric tradeoffs that have by now become post-metal cliche. Though their sound was obviously much different, I’d put Iron Tides in a similar category to Brooklyn heavy acts like Blackout and Polygamyst, who also take various familiar elements and seem to be making efforts to craft something of their own from them. Their effort in this regard and overall fervor were appreciated.
Kings Destroy hit probably the angriest set I’ve ever seen them play. Tossing in older cuts like “The Whittler” and “Dusty Mummy” alongside the newer “Blood of Recompense,” “The Toe” and “Turul” from this year’s A Time of Hunting(go buy it), they only seemed to get more pissed off after the aforementioned tanktop brigade — who, by the way, all matched — got into some hooliganry with vocalist Steve Murphy as he came down from the stage. I noted when one of them tried to pull him off again, the result was a fast as-he-was-jumping-to-the-floor kick square to the chest — no doubt a move leftover from Murphy‘s days in Uppercut. Laughed a bit at that.
Despite the shenanigans, Kings Destroy were tight and heavy as ever, made only more malevolent for the meanness that seemed to accompany their delivery. By the time they got around to “The Whittler,” it was like they were throwing the songs at you. They’re probably the single band I’ve seen most over the last two-plus years (live reviews here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) and I already look forward to seeing them with Pelican in October if I don’t run into them between now and then — they’re playing Vitus again on Thursday with Caltrop, should you happen to be in town– so please take it as coming from the voice of experience (oh yeah, their first record also came out on The Maple Forum, so there’s that) when I say that it wasn’t a put-on, or “show-anger.” Whatever it was, they played like they were fucking pissed off and it came through in the songs. Even “Turul” at the end was nastier than I’ve ever heard it, and while it’s always had a certain undefinable sneer, with the quiet riffing from guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski and the everyone-together-now timed hits driven by bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik there isn’t much room for all-out belligerence. They made room.
There seemed like a long break between Kings Destroy and Truckfighters, but once the latter got on stage, they were hard to miss. The crowd seemed to know the opening riff to “Desert Cruiser” was coming even before Källgren started playing it, and once Cedermalm and Kvarnström joined in, they locked in immediately from the start. I knew from seeing them at Desertfest in April that even with the new drummer addition they were as riotous as ever, and even though Kvarnström is a quieter presence behind the kit than was Oscar “Pezo” Johansson, now of Witchcraft, “Desert Cruiser” and longer jams like “Chameleon” from 2007′s Phiand “Last Curfew” from 2009′s Maniawere as unbelievably tight as one could ask, the band stomping a sneaker print in the line between technical precision and showmanship as few can. I think Källgren alone put more energy into his performance than 90 percent of the entire bands I’ve seen this year, not including his own of course, jumping up and down, running back and forth, headbanging and all the rest.
And that’s the thing about Truckfighters. Because if they were just a band who got crazy on stage, you’d go, “Well okay, that’s cool,” and move onto the next thing. But not only are they out of their collective mind when they play, but over the years they’ve become increasingly progressive songwriters, so that a riff as epically memorable as that opening and comprising much of “Desert Cruiser” can exist next to a cut like “Majestic” from Mania, the sprawl of which outlasts even its 13-minute runtime, and they don’t miss a beat going from one to the next. Cedermalm tipped the mic into the crowd for the opening track, at one point Källgren jumped off the stage and made his way through to the bar in back of the Vitus, playing the whole time — I think it was during the jam on “Monte Gargano,” but don’t quote me on that — and when the set was over, Cedermalm also got off stage to add to his already considerable bass cacophony by running his strings on the torso of some kid in a Big Lebowski t-shirt. They’re fun to watch, but if they didn’t have the songs to back them up — which I’m glad to argue they do — they wouldn’t get beyond the novelty factor.
In the end, they obviously did, and I think they wore out the crowd in the process. I had competing impulses of exhaustion and dehydration fighting it out, but though I knew it was the wrong choice on a practical level, I didn’t at all regret inconveniencing later-me to see the show. Catching Truckfighters again as they started this tour was obviously the onus for my being there, but front-to-back it was a killer show. I didn’t make it all the way back to Massachusetts, but stopped in New Haven, CT, to crash for a few hours before resuming the trip this morning. I’ve felt like I got my ass kicked all day, but this one was well worth a beating.
Posted in audiObelisk on August 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Tomorrow, Aug. 20, marks the release of Pittsburgh classic heavy rockers Carousel‘s Tee Pee Records full-length debut, Jeweler’s Daughter. It’s an album that arrives with no shortage of fanfare leading its charge, but the highwire double-guitar feats of Dave Wheeler (also vocals) and Chris Tritschler and the upbeat grooves of bassist Jim Wilson and drummer Jake Leger justify the excitement. From the heavy rock motor-chug of the opening title-track to the watch-out-for-that-spilled-beer slide of closer “Penance,” Carousel work in a blend of elder metal that sits well alongside the overarching natural feel of the album.
Most of all, though, it’s a rager. Similar in spirit — though taking out some of that SoCal skatepunk vibe — to the success Tee Pee found last year with The Shrine‘s Primitive Blast, Carousel wind up someplace between Bible of the Devil‘s worship of Motörhead, Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest and a modern take on early ’70s swagger. Wheeler and Tritschler are very much in the position of driving the material throughout, but songs like “Long Time” and “On My Way” are memorable for more than their riffs and leads, the latter tapping most into the Motörhead vibe, starting at full-speed and staying there, but adding an individual sensibility through the dueling solos to make the song sound not-at-all incomplete at 2:19.
Side B shows more breadth, as it should. “Light of Day” picks up with a strong hook where album-highlight “Waste of Time” left off, but finds Wheeler more vocally brazen in his layering, and the subsequent “Nightfall” taps Dixie Witch moodiness as it cuts the pace somewhat to deepen the vibe. Between the play of opposites of “Light of Day” and “Nightfall,” as well as that of “Contrition” and “Penance,” one could easily read a sense of narrative into the second half of Jeweler’s Daughter, and while I don’t know if that’s the band’s intent, as the latter kicks out its extended shake-and-stomp intro, the possibility that such a thing would arrive with a thematic underscore makes the record’s finish all the more intriguing and enjoyable.
Not to mention the groove they jam on at the end, which, you know, riffs and booze and denim jackets and whathaveyou. Right on.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting a stream of Jeweler’s Daughterin its entirety ahead of tomorrow’s release date. Please find it on the player below and enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hope you’re ready for fuzzy times. Örebro-based megafuzzers Truckfighters are heading back to the States for a coast-to-coast run that starts in Brooklyn with Kings Destroy at the St. Vitus bar, and from there will head westward where they’ll perform with the likes of Fatso Jetson (in L.A.), Valley of the Sun (in Ohio) and a slew of other killer acts. In addition to that, the trio just announced a follow-up European tour for October that will coincide with the arrival of their new EP, The Chairman, which will be the first Truckfighters release since 2009′s golly-gee-whiz-that’s-a-good-record Mania (review here).
I had to cull the news from a couple different sources to get it all in for both tours, but what the hell, it’s Truckfighters. If they’re anywhere near as good at these shows as they were at Desertfest in London earlier this year, they’re going to leave scars:
CELEBRATED SWEDISH ROCK BAND TRUCKFIGHTERS ANNOUNCE U.S. TOUR DATES
Örebro, Sweden fuzz frontrunners TRUCKFIGHTERS have announced a U.S. headlining tour in support of their forthcoming new EP The Chairman. The highly respected trio – called “the best band that’s ever existed” by QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE frontman Josh Homme – will kick off the U.S. trek on August 19 in Brooklyn, NY. The two week trek will hit Philadelphia (August 20), Chicago (August 24), Los Angeles (August 27), Tucson (August 31) and more showcasing TRUCKFIGHTERS incredibly fuzz-tastic and electric live performance.
The band from Örebro (SWE) just announced its limited 10″ vinyl EP “THE CHAIRMAN” (also available as download) will be released on October 4th, once again via their very own and highly regarding label Fuzzorama Records!
Check out the EP’s cover art designed by Swedish artworker Jerker Josefsson! TRUCKFIGHTERS just revealed it.
(** The Chairman EP in the US will come in a different artwork and as a 12″ vinyl, also featuring a different tracklist than in the rest of the world **)
This release will be accompanied by an extended European tour, presenting the trio in its prime element: Live! Please see the dates below :
TRUCKFIGHTERS U.S. tour dates: August 19 New York, NY Saint Vitus Bar August 20 Philadelphia, PA KungFu Necktie August 21 New York, NY ** Secret Show ** August 22 Dayton, OH Blind Bob’s bar August 23 Rock Island, IL RIBCO August 24 Chicago, IL Reggies Rock Club August 24 Chicago, IL Bash On Wabash Street fest August 25 Milwaukee, WI Cactus Club August 26 Cedar Rapids, IA Chez Beavun’s Garden of Fuzz August 27 Los Angeles, CA The Satellite August 29 San Diego, CA The Griffin August 30 Palm Desert, CA The Hood Bar August 31 Tucson, AZ The Rock September 1 Indio, CA Indio Performing Arts Center
TRUCKFIGHTERS European tour dates: 02.10.2013 (GER) Leipzig, UT Connewitz 03.10.2013 (GER) Aschaffenburg, Colos Saal 04.10.2013 (GER) Dortmund, FZW (Westend-Festival) 05.10.2013 (CH) Pratteln, Z7 (Up In Smoke Festival) 07.10.2013 (FR) Nantes, Le Ferrailleur 08.10.2013 (LUX) Luxembourg, RockBox 09.10.2013 (NL) Rotterdam, Baroeg 10.10.2013 (BEL) Antwerp, Trix 11.10.2013 (NL) Groningen, Vera 12.10.2013 (GER) Siegen, Vortex 14.10.2013 (GER) Karlsruhe or Mannheim, venue tba 15.10.2013 (AT) Innsbruck, PMK 16.10.2013 (IT) Milano, Lo-Fi Club 17.10.2013 (IT) Egna / Bolzano, Point 18.10.2013 (AT) Linz, Kapu 19.10.2013 (GER) Munich, Feierwerk 20.10.2013 (GER) Bremen, Roemer
Posted in Features on August 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Begun in Paris, moved first to New York and then to Los Angeles and signed to Tee Pee Records for the release of their second album, which wound up becoming an album and an EP, the story of Blaak Heat Shujaa thus far is not wanting for twists and turns. In 2010, though they were then based in France, the trio traveled to CA to record their self-titled debut (review here) with Scott Reeder (yes, that ScottReeder). By the time they returned to Reeder‘s The Sanctuary studio to put to tape what would become their late-2012 EP, The Storm Generation(review here) and their first full-length for Tee Pee, 2013′s The Edge of An Era(review here), the band would be residents, touring their now-native West Coast alongside the likes of Yawning Man and Fatso Jetson, and working live and in the studio with gonzo poet Ron Whitehead on material greatly expanded in scope and sound from that which had come before.
The creative leaps the young band have made over the last couple years are no less dramatic than the geographical changes that brought them to L.A. With a sound set to melding desert rock and European heavy psych influences captured live in its crucial moment by Reeder, Blaak Heat Shujaa show with The Edge of an Erathat they not only understand what they want to be as a band, but that they are in full command of actually becoming that thing. The trio of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier, bassist Antoine Morel-Vulliez and drummer Mike Amster are able to create a swirling hook or a memorable jam seemingly at their whim, and as a result, songs like “Shadows (The Beast Pt. II)” and “Society of Barricades” leave a lasting impression with their chaos and with the open-spaced desert ambience the band brings to them. They are strikingly patient, and even in breaking up the sessions into two releases, they show a maturity of approach that many who’ve been around much longer simply don’t have.
When I spoke to Bellier, he and the band were fresh off a long European tour alongside Morricone-style rockers Spindrift, and he was in France staying with family, waiting to hitch a ride with his former bandmates in Mirror Queen as they toured with The Atomic Bitchwax and Earthless last month. In the interview that follows, he discusses how that tour went, actually playing with Spindrift, making The Edge of an Eraand The Storm Generation with Reeder and bringing in Fatso Jetson‘s Mario Lalli for the standout track “Pelham Blue,” the possibility of US touring with Blaak Heat Shujaa, side-projects and much more.
You’ll find the complete Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last time we checked in, San Diego trio Earthless were playing some of their new material live as they began a European tour to herald the coming of their new album, From theAges, at Stoned from the Underground in Germany. Before that, there appeared the cover art for the record, which is their first studio outing in six years. And now, at last, a release date, track listing and some further info on the album’s doings. No music just yet, but that can’t be far off.
Earthless‘ From the Agesis set for release Oct. 8. The PR wire takes it from here:
San Diego Psych Rock Supergroup EARTHLESS to Release New Album “From the Ages” October 8
Revered Band’s First New LP in Six Years Blends Japanese Psychedelic Guitar Heroics with Krautrock’s Experimental Underpinnings
Award-winning San Diego power rock band EARTHLESS has completed work on its brand new album From the Ages. The first new studio album from the globally celebrated trio since the release of 2007′s critically acclaimed Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky, the LP was recorded in San Francisco with producer Phil Manley (Trans Am, The Fucking Champs, SubArachnoid Space). An hour-long double LP, From the Ages will see an October 8 release date via Tee Pee Records.
Formed in 2001, EARTHLESS prides itself on creating energetic, utterly unique and free thinking instrumental music inspired by an eclectic mix of German krautrock and Japanese heavy blues-rock. The Californian trio has dedicated itself to mastery of the mind-bending jam session, evoking the spirits of Jimi Hendrix and Black Sabbath in equal measure. Named after a song title from vintage New York garage-psych band The Druids of Stonehenge, EARTHLESS’ sound has been called “A sonic kaleidoscope of lava and lightning”, earning it the title of “California’s loudest band”. The group delivers “one of the best live shows in all of modern, heavy rock,” leading to one reviewer stating that the band’s “epic shredding harkens back to the days were psychedelic rock had balls the size of grapefruits and wasn’t afraid to take its listeners on a ride for which they may never return.”
Each member of EARTHLESS has done time in many other bands. Drummer (and former pro skater) Mario Rubalcaba currently plays in the hardcore punk band OFF! and has also occupied the drum throne in Rocket From The Crypt and Hot Snakes amongst many others. Bassist Mike Eginton played with Electric Nazarene and guitarist Isaiah Mitchell was most recently in Howlin’ Rain, has played with Nebula and Drunk Horse and also heads up the Bay Area band Golden Void. In the end, EARTHLESS is the musical rock that grounds the three musicians and now, after more than half a decade since the release of their last studio LP, EARTHLESS has returned and is out to prove — through sheer rock power — why they are considered the cream of the modern day heavy psych scene.
“We feel this is some of the strongest material that we have ever created and we cannot wait to get out there and share it with everyone in a live setting,” said the band when asked for comment. From the Ages’ sprawling, epic cover art was created by renowned rock music poster artist Alan Forbes (Queens of the Stone Age, SWANS, Black Crowes) while the record’s surreal inner design was brought to life by the band’s own Mike Eginton.
Track listing: 1.) Violence of the Red Sea (14:44) 2.) Uluru Rock (14:08) 3.) Equus October (5:42) 4.) From the Ages (30:55)
Earthless, “From the Ages”/”Godspeed” Live in 2009