All Them Witches European Tour Starts April 11

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

all them witches (photo by JJ Koczan)

Having recently had occasion to see All Them Witches on stage in their trio incarnation (review here), I can only advise it. They’re pretty clearly feeling out the dynamic as a three-piece, but in so doing they’re able to bring a new sense of purpose to their jams, and to use space in their sound in a way they never have before. It’s interesting on a creative level and, even better, it kicks ass to see. I said when they had four members that each of them were necessary for what they were doing, and that was true. Their workaround seem to be in developing a new approach to how they function as a band, and it’s one that suits them, the rawer edge of guitar, bass, drums and vocals allowing them to dig into organic atmospheres as they never have before. I don’t know if they’ll stay that way or what will happen, but then it seems all the more reason to catch them now.

They play Desertfest in Berlin and London on this tour and numerous club shows, some of which are already sold out. Looks like a good tour, and it starts in just a couple days. Dig it:

all them witches europe tour 2019

All Them Witches – European Tour 2019

Thu 11 Apr Helsinki FINLAND – On the Rocks
Sat 13 Apr Oslo NORWAY – Rockefeller / John DEE / Sentrum Scene
Sun 14 Apr Stockholm SWEDEN – Debaser
Mon 15 Apr Copenhagen DENMARK – Hotel Cecil – SOLD OUT!
Wed 17 Apr Leffinge BELGIUM – Muziekclub De Zwerver
Thu 18 Apr Sint-Niklaas BELGIUM – Concertzaal De Casino
Fri 19 Apr Hasselt BELGIUM – Muziekodroom
Sat 20 Apr – Schinjndel NETHERLANDS – Paaspop
Mon 22 Apr Paris FRANCE – La Maroquinerie – SOLD OUT!
Wed 24 Apr Madrid SPAIN – SALA CARACOL MADRID
Thu 25 Apr Barcelona SPAIN – Razzmatazz
Fri 26 Apr Nimes FRANCE – Paloma / SMAC de Nîmes Métropole
Sat 27 Apr Milan ITALY – Bloom
Mon 29 Apr Vienna AUSTRIA – ARENA WIEN
Tue 30 Apr Prague CZ – Rock Café Prague
Wed 01 May Poznan POLAND _ Klub u Bazyla
Thu 02 May Warsaw POLAND – Klub Hydrozagadka
Fri 03 May Berlin GERMANY – DesertFest Berlin
Sat 04 May Nijmegen NETHERLANDS – Sonic Whip
Sun 05 May London UK – Desertfest London
Mon 06 May Brighton UK – The Haunt Brighton – SOLD OUT!
Wed 08 May Manchester UK – Band on the Wall – SOLD OUT!
Thu 09 May Cardiff UK – Clwb Ifor Bach – SOLD OUT!

http://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/allthemwitches
https://www.instagram.com/allthemwitchesband/
https://twitter.com/allthemwitches
http://www.allthemwitches.org/

All Them Witches, ATW (2018)

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GIVEAWAY: Win Tickets to All Them Witches’ March Tour

Posted in Features on February 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

all them witches

[To enter giveaway: Leave a comment on this post with the name of the city where you want to see the show. Make sure your email is in the form provided so I can contact you if you win.]

So here’s the deal: All Them Witches start a tour tomorrow of the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard, ranging as far as Minneapolis and Milwaukee, Burlington and Montreal, and Atlanta and Durham. It’s 23 days of total roadtime, as the now-trio continue to support last year’s ATW (review here). I’ve been given the chance to give away a pair of tickets to any of the shows on this tour — they’re all listed below, but obviously, as the tour starts March 1 — aka tomorrow — it’s gotta be done on the quick.

Thus, a rush. If you can go see All Them Witches sometime in the next three-plus weeks, just leave a comment on this post and let me know what city. If you win, I’ll email you and let you know. I’m going to pick a winner as soon as possible this weekend, but if you’re in Atlanta or Charlotte, North Carolina, it might be tricky. I’m not saying don’t enter, but I’m not saying cancel grandpa’s birthday on account of the surefire evening plans either.

Pretty simple deal, all told. Here are the tour dates:

All Them Witches w/ Plague Vendor:
Mar 1 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
Mar 2 – Charlotte, NC @ Visulite Theatre
Mar 5 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
Mar 6 – Indianapolis, IN @ Hi-Fi
Mar 7 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
Mar 8 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Back Room at Colectivo Coffee
Mar 9 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Cafe
Mar 10 – Madison, WI @ High Noon
Mar 12 – Grand Rapids, MI @ The Stache
Mar 13 – Ferndale, MI @ Magic Bag
Mar 14 – Cleveland Heights, OH @ Grog Shop
Mar 15 – Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place
Mar 16 – Toronto, ON @ Opera House
Mar 17 – Montreal, QC @ L’Astral
Mar 19 – South Burlington, VT @ Showcase Lounge
Mar 20 – Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
Mar 21 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
Mar 22 – Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church
Mar 23 – Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel
Mar 24 – Durham, NC @ Motorco Music Hall

As ever, I keep no emails, I sell no emails. I have no interest in or knowledge of such things. The only reason I want your email address is to tell you if you win. Thanks for reading and for your support. Good luck to all who enter.

[To enter giveaway: Leave a comment on this post with the name of the city where you want to see the show. Make sure your email is in the form provided so I can contact you if you win.]

http://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/allthemwitches
https://www.instagram.com/allthemwitchesband/
https://twitter.com/allthemwitches
http://www.allthemwitches.org/

All Them Witches, ATW (2018)

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Howling Giant Remaster Self-Titled EP; Tour to SXSW and Beyond; Working on Debut Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

howling giant

I wrote a bio this past weekend for Howling Giant that, at least I hope, will be of some use as they move toward the completion and release of their debut full-length later this year. That’ll be nifty. In the meantime, to tide over we plebes, the Nashville trio are set to issue a remastered vinyl version of their 2015 self-titled debut four-song EP through Blues Funeral Recordings, and as the PR wire notes below, they’ll also take part in Ripple Music‘s upcoming successor to the The Second Coming of Heavy split series, called Turn to Stone, and Magnetic Eye‘s Alice in Chains homage, Dirt [Redux]. Do you wonder what song they’re doing? I do.

Because this is what happens when a band is so utterly restless, they’ll also head out on tour. Next month they’ll hit up the SX Stoner Jam along with the rest of the planet except for me because I’m not cool enough, and then in April it’s off to Psycho Smoke Out in L.A., which I’m also not cool enough for. Points to me for consistency and points to the band for not being able to sit still. Gotta go, gotta go.

I’ll hope to post that bio here sooner or later, but the PR wire sums up all their doings thusly:

HOWLING GIANT Announce Spring US Tour with Stops at SXSW Stoner Jam and Psycho Smokeout

Cosmic psych-metallers drop much-demanded vinyl EP and break in their new bassist on the road; full album due this summer.

If ever there was a band who seemed to be following a treasure map from humble origins to future psych-metal stardom, it’s Howling Giant. And 2019 is shaping up to be their biggest year yet.

First, the interplanetary riff-rockers will see their self-titled debut EP get an official release from Blues Funeral Recordings.

Featuring EC Comics-inspired artwork by Darren Merinuk and all tracks fully remastered by Dave Shirk (Mastodon, The Obsessed), the March 22nd release of this glorious slab on digital and wax marks the band’s first-ever vinyl offering, giving longtime supporters the chance (at last) to bring home a tangible piece of Howling Giant heaviness after watching them tear up yet another stage.

Available for pre-order at this location.

And speaking of tearing up stages, the band is just starting to gear up for a huge year on the road, with a clutch of dates in March leading straight into an almost month-long tour in April/May.

Featuring a string of shows with Indiana’s Archarus, the back-to-back tours include slots at the ever-popular South by Southwest Stoner Jam as well as the fest you’re guaranteed to forget (or you’re doing it wrong), the Psycho Smokeout (from the folks who bring you Psycho Las Vegas).

Full tour dates for Howling Giant Spring 2019 are:
3/12/19: Lafayette, LA – Freetown Boom Boom Room *
3/13/19: Houston, TX – Dan Electros *
3/14/19: Austin, TX – SXSW Stoner Jam (feat. Howling Giant, Riff Lord, Backwoods Payback, Duel, Heavy Temple, Mountain Tamer, Hazytones, ZED and more) *
3/15/19: Arlington, TX – Division Brewing *
3/16/19: Texarkana, AR – Broadway Sports Bar and Billiards *
4/12/19: Memphis, TN – Hi Tone
4/13/19: Little Rock, AR – Vino’s
4/15/19: Oklahoma City, OK – 89th st. OKC
4/16/19: San Antonio,TX – Lime Light
4/17/19: Albuquerque, NM – Sister Bar
4/19/19: San Diego, CA – The Salty Frog
4/20/19: Los Angeles, LA – Psycho Smokeout (feat. Elder, Monolord, Goya, R.I.P., Electric Citizen and more)
4/21/19: San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
4/23/19: Seattle, WA – Highline
4/24/19: Bend, OR – Third Street Pub
4/25/19: Portland, OR – Tonic
4/27/19: Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
4/28/19: Denver, CO – Hi-Dive
5/01/19: Indianapolis, IN – Black Circle brewing
5/02/19: Chicago, IL – Reggies Music Room
5/03/19: Canton, OH – Buzzbin
5/04/19: Lexington, KY – Green Lantern
* Dates with Archarus

As if that wasn’t enough, Howling Giant are hard at work on their first-ever full-length album, which they’ll be sending to all ends of the cosmos later this summer in conjunction with, you guessed it, more touring.

Furthermore, the band are rumored to be one of the first bands tapped to appear on Ripple Music’s forthcoming Turn to Stone series of split releases, as well as having confirmed a coveted spot on Magnetic Eye Records’ next anxiously-awaited curated homage, Dirt [Redux].

Fortunately, there’s no such thing as too much Howling Giant in this world… or any other.

howlinggiant.bandcamp.com
twitter.com/howlinggiant
www.facebook.com/howlinggiant/
https://www.facebook.com/bluesfuneral/
bluesfuneral.com

Howling Giant, Howling Giant EP (2015)

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All Them Witches Announce Lineup Change; Band to Continue as Trio

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Well, every All Them Witches record has been different from the one before it, and no matter what else happens, that’s bound to be the case with their next one as well. In an announcement posted over the weekend, the Nashville heavy-psych blues forerunners made public the departure of keyboardist Jonathan Draper. Draper was, of course, their second organist, taking the place of founding member Allan Van Cleave, who left the band prior to the recording of their latest album, ATW (review here). The stated intention is to carry on as the core three-piece, though if you have Rhodes and will travel, I wouldn’t not hit them up, since as bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr. says in the statement below, it’s an “indefinite” change. That hardly means forever.

Parks, guitarist Ben McLeod and drummer Robby Staebler certainly want for nothing as regards chemistry between them, so while that dynamic will inherently change without a fourth member, one expects they’ll come through. It might be an album or two getting settled, but the fact that they tour so hard invariably means that if there’s something to figure out musically or in terms of their presentation, they’ll have plenty of opportunity to do so. These guys have earned a good amount of trust in my book at this point.

Here’s what Parks had to say:

all them witches (Photo by Ryan Musick)

Hi there, time to talk about change!

Robby, Ben and I have been making music together for 6 years, and since then we have had an insane array of friends and family come and go through our musical life. We love all of them, we cherish all of them and their time, and talent. We want to celebrate the time we have spent together. Since our formation, the one goal I have had for this band is to be open, vulnerable, and willing to love and adapt to change as it presents itself.

That being said, we have decided to proceed in our musical experience as a 3 piece band, indefinitely. The power trio has been a huge part of rock tradition, and we are happy to join the ranks. I know this may be disappointing to some of you who have known us for awhile, and I fully understand the hesitation when the “known” becomes “unknown.” But what I want to say is, we love music, and there would be no reason for us to go on the road or endure what we endure if not for the transformative power of music. It is an ancient pull, and I don’t know exactly where it comes from, but we are knee deep and wading out.

Sincerely, thank you for supporting and trusting us. We have all rooted ourselves into the lives of each other, us to you, and in kind, you to us. There is no way to describe sharing the band/fan connection every night, but we are overjoyed to experience it with you.

-Parks ATW

http://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/allthemwitches
https://www.instagram.com/allthemwitchesband/
https://twitter.com/allthemwitches
http://www.allthemwitches.org/

All Them Witches, ATW (2018)

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All Them Witches, ATW: When the Process of Becoming Becomes the Process

Posted in Reviews on September 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

all them witches atw

It’s been a quick turnaround to get All Them Witches to their fifth album. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, the four-piece have barely held still since the release of their 2012 debut, Our Mother Electricity (review here), issuing what would become a landmark in their second album, 2013’s Lightning at the Door (review here), and then becoming a touring band, signing to New West Records and continuing to press forward to bigger rooms, longer tours and an ever-present slew of digital one-off EP — the latest of which, the Lost and Found EP (review here), arrived earlier this year — singles, live recordings, and so on. Following up 2015’s predominantly mellow and melancholy Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here), the band broke with their LP-per-year tradition and released their fourth full-length in last year’s Sleeping Through the War (review here). Though signature elements have been retained — the restless drumming of Robby Staebler, the bluesy jams led by guitarist Ben McLeod, the strong use of Rhodes piano and other keys, the creative basslines and increasingly confident vocals of Charles Michael Parks, Jr. — no two All Them Witches records have sounded alike, and Sleeping Through the War was again a departure.

Produced by Dave Cobb, it was an elaborate production involving background singers, guest instrumentation, and a broader scope than anything the band had yet produced. In their fifth long-player, the 56-minute ATW, they have offered a willful contradiction. McLeod takes the helm as producer — Grant Husselman recorded and Rob Schnapf mixed — and the eight resultant tracks are a distinct pivot toward a more stripped-down, naturalist approach. They eschew choral vibes in favor of the raw boogie of “Fishbelly 86 Onions,” launching the album with a couple telling seconds of show’s-about-to-start noise before kicking into the song itself. Indeed, most of what follows, from the winding turns of “1st vs. 2nd” into the dreamy and jammy reaches of the closing salvo “Harvest Feast,” “HTJC” and “Rob’s Dream,” feels built for the stage, whether it’s uptempo and relatively straightforward like “Half-Tongue” or the memorable and Western-slide-tinged second track “Workhorse,” All Them Witches still manage to cast a varied atmospheric impression while pulling the arrangements back to ground.

No doubt at least a portion of the credit — a fourth, maybe? — for that goes to new keyboardist Jonathan Draper, who here steps into the role formerly occupied by Allan Van Cleave. Those are not minor shoes to fill. In addition to having been a founding member, Van Cleave‘s Rhodes melodies added to the dreamy psychedelic stretches of All Them Witches‘ jams and made their blues all the more resonant. Even more to his credit, Draper lives up to the task, and from the wildman organ in “Fishbelly 86 Onions” and the subtle background tone of “Workhorse,” he makes his presence felt as an essential component alongside Parks, McLeod and Staebler in a fashion that makes the familiar aspect his own. The personality in his playing can be heard in “Half-Tongue” and the post-midsection sprawl of “Harvest Feast,” which tops 11 minutes and follows the moody highlight “Diamond” in order to lead into the back end of the record, and though there’s a sense of his integration still being in-process — that is, one gets the feeling that he’ll have even more to say in the arrangements next time around — he steps into a collection of tracks that stand on the strength of their songwriting and performance and plays a crucial role in letting them do just that.

all them witches

From everyone in the band, there’s a gleeful sense of defiance here. All Them Witches have always enjoyed contradiction — Lightning at the Door was heavy, so Dying Surfer Meets His Maker wasn’t, etc. — but ATW might be their most purposeful one to-date. It is the band reclaiming their identity. No coincidence McLeod is producer on it. After their more elaborate production to-date, they’re keeping it in-house, holding firm to the approach that’s gotten them to where they are and, through these songs, making a statement of what they want to be as a band and how they want their material to function. Granted, that’s an awful lot of narrative to read into it, and it’s not like they have a song called “We’re All Them Witches and You Can Kiss Our Collective Ass” or anything like that, but through the focus on their performance and the sheer will with which they execute “1st vs. 2nd,” “Diamond,” the experimental-feeling “HTJC” — which for much of its run is just Parks‘ vocals in folkish form backed by bass and a gradual, acoustic-laced build — it’s not a stretch to hear that All Them Witches, either consciously or not, are doing the work of regrounding themselves, reaffirming their methods and their desire to play not just in a certain style or styles, but however they want, whenever they want, wherever they want.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was hired to write the bio for the album and spoke to Parks as a part of that process about the songwriting and recording process. But even so, in listening, I keep going back to “Fishbelly 86 Onions.” It’s not like anything else the band brings to ATW, and inarguably their most active moment on the record. As the opener, it’s also an outlier, but in the howl leading into Draper‘s organ solo before the song hits the two-minute mark, there’s so much revelry in the spirit of the track that it’s almost like a breaking out. They’ve busted through whatever confines they were in and are running full sprint toward, what, themselves? I don’t know, but hearing Parks count from one to 20 as part of the lyrics, the fuzz in McLeod‘s guitar and the jazzy swing in Staebler‘s cymbals, there’s a torrential feeling of chaosmaking that’s just so much fun-as-a-statement that it affects everything that follows. The rim-ticks of “Workhorse,” the aggression at root in “1st vs. 2nd,” the storytelling in “Half-Tongue,” the progressive tension in “Diamond,” bluesy range of “Harvest Feast,” glorious wash in the payoff of “HTJC” and meld of psychedelia and classic heavy rocking starts and stops in “Rob’s Dream” — they all seem to draw from the plentiful energetic well of “Fishbelly 86 Onions,” and there’s enough left by the final moments of “Rob’s Dream” that All Them Witches jam their way through an upbeat payoff that finds all four members of the band at the height of their powers, still not overstated, but playing through with the deceptive class and chemistry that, as much as anything else, has become a hallmark of their sound.

Even unto its title, ATW is indicative of the intent on the part of the band to stake their claim on who they are. And it’s not even a full self-titled. It’s the acronym. Nothing extra, nothing more than it wants to be. Of course, they’re still a deeply nuanced band as they’ve always been, and there’s growth in their craft and in their performance, as there’s always been, but that’s all part of what makes All Them Witches who they are. I don’t know whether McLeod will produce their sixth offering or if they’ll once again look to someone outside themselves, if that record will expand on what’s here or draw even further back. One thing it’s never been safe to do is predict where All Them Witches will end up, because while they’ve never stopped moving forward, that “forward” is a path that seems likewise to veer in multiple directions at once. The passion that drives them is not only evident in ATW but key to the album’s overall success, and it’s refreshing to hear a band who, five records deep into their tenure, can sound both mature as a unit and like they’re still only beginning their exploration.

All Them Witches, “Diamond” official video

All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks

All Them Witches on Bandcamp

All Them Witches on Instagram

New West Records website

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Here’s the Bio I Wrote for All Them Witches’ ATW

Posted in Features on August 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

all them witches

A couple months back, I had the distinct pleasure of being asked to write the bio for the next All Them Witches album. Titled simply ATW, it’s a marked shift in approach from the preceding Sleeping Through the War (review here) not only in that it marks the introduction of Jonathan Draper on keys, but also in terms of overall production. Helmed by guitarist Ben McLeod, it’s the first time the Nashville four-piece have recorded themselves for a full-length offering. It pulls back on some of its predecessor’s more elaborate, “produced” feel and instead captures the natural interplay between the four members of the band. In short, it’s a more live-sounding, stage-ready album. And obviously I jumped at the chance to write the bio for it.

ATW is out Sept. 28 on New West Records. You can stream the opening track “Fishbelly 86 Onions” at the bottom of this post, and thanks for reading:

all them witches atw

All Them Witches – ATW

By most bands’ fifth LP, the sound is pretty set. Parameters established. Refinement dissipated in favor of formulaic execution of what’s worked in the past. Fair enough. All Them Witches take a harder route.

In 2017, the Nashville four-piece offered what might’ve otherwise become their own template in their fourth album, Sleeping Through The War. Their second for New West Records following 2015’s mellow-vibing Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, Sleeping brought larger production value to dug-in heavy psych blues jamming with oversight from producer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson).

After exploring new ground on 2013’s Lightning At The Door and 2012’s Our Mother Electricity as well as Dying Surfer, with Sleeping the band had arrived at something new, something sprawling, and grander-feeling than anything before it.

So naturally, in a year’s time they’ve thrown that all to the Appalachian wind, turned the process completely on its head and reversed paths: recording in a cabin in Kingston Springs, about 20 miles outside of Nashville on I-40, with guitarist Ben McLeod at the helm. Take that, expectation.

The result, mixed by Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith, Kurt Vile), is the most intimate, human-sounding album All Them Witches have ever recorded and another redefinition of the band. Introducing keyboardist/percussionist Jonathan Draper to the fold with McLeod, bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., and drummer/graphic artist Robby Staebler, the new eponymous record isn’t self-titled by mistake. It’s the band confirming and continuing to develop their approach, in the shuffle of “Fishbelly 86 Onions,” the organ-laced groove of “Half-Tongue,” the tense build of “HJTC” and the fluid jam in closer “Rob’s Dream.”

It’s a reaction to being a “bigger” band. To playing bigger shows, bigger tours, etc. From the sustained consonants in Parks’ vocals to McLeod’s commanding slide in “Workhorse” and drifting melancholy at the outset of “Harvest Feast,” All Them Witches is there laying claim to the essential facets of their identity. And the urgency of these tracks – fast pushers and sleepy jams alike – is among their greatest strengths.

It’s a rawer delivery, as stage-ready as the band itself, and as ever, it captures All Them Witches in this moment. Is it who they’ll be tomorrow? Who the hell knows? Check back in and we’ll all find out together. That’s the whole idea.

TRACKLIST:
Fishbelly 86 Onions
Workhorse
1st vs. 2nd
Half-Tongue
Diamond
Harvest Feast
HJTC
Rob’s Dream

All Them Witches is:
Charles Michael Parks, Jr
Ben McLeod
Robby Staebler
Jonathan Draper

http://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/allthemwitches
https://www.instagram.com/allthemwitchesband/
https://twitter.com/allthemwitches
http://www.allthemwitches.org/

All Them Witches, ATW (2018)

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Howling Giant Touring in August; Playing Psycho Las Vegas and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Let’s face it, August pretty much belongs to Psycho Las Vegas. There’s other stuff going on, as there always is, but the festival is something of an epicenter around which the rest of the month revolves, and an awful lot of tour routings, album releases, etc., are geared toward supporting what’s happening there. For good reason. What’s happening is arguably the biggest heavy underground fest in the States, and accordingly it’s all the more fitting that bands like Howling Giant should get out and tour as a part of making the trip. The Nashville progressive heavy rockers also toured up the East Coast earlier this year supporting their 2017 EP, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (review here), and they’re streaming now their contribution to Magnetic Eye Records‘ impending two-part Pink Floyd tribute compilation.

The PR wire invites you to dig it:

howling giant (Photo by Josh Dagenais)

Psych-Metal Road Dogs HOWLING GIANT to Tour Southwest En Route to August Psycho Las Vegas Appearance

Nashville trio preps for a quick string of blistering dates before and after their set at the massive Vegas festival next month, also leads off the upcoming Best of Pink Floyd release from Magnetic Eye Records.

Interplanetary riff-rockin’ powerhouse HOWLING GIANT hits the road again this August for a run of shows leading them to and from a coveted slot at that annual maelstrom of stoner/doom/psych bliss, Psycho Las Vegas.

Their “Arcane Ritual” tour includes the following stops:
Aug 15: Wichita Falls, TX – Iron Horse Pub
Aug 16: El Paso, TX – RCBG
Aug 17-19: Psycho Las Vegas
Aug 20: Scottsdale, AZ – Rogue Bar
Aug 21: Albuquerque, NM – Launch Pad
Aug 22: Las Cruces, NM – The Warehouse
Aug 23: San Antonio – The Mix
Aug 24: Lafayette, LA – Freetown Boom Boom Room
Aug 25: New Orleans, LA – Santos
Aug 26: Birmingham, AL – The Nick 42nd Street Tavern
Howling Giant are also confirmed as the album-opener to the much-awaited Best of Pink Floyd LP, Magnetic Eye Records’ companion album to its massively-anticipated The Wall [Redux] release. Both albums land this November and can be pre-ordered here.

Formed by self-proclaimed nerds, Howling Giant is a perfect marriage between pulpy sci-fi themes and blistering riff-psych. Fans of Mastodon’s Crack the Skye, early Baroness, Summoner and The Sword will immediately latch onto Howling Giant’s spaced-out, cosmically-informed songcraft and lyrics that span sea voyages to space flight to androids with a bloodlust for camels.

howlinggiant.bandcamp.com
twitter.com/howlinggiant
www.facebook.com/howlinggiant/

Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (2017)

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Quarterly Review: Khemmis, Morag Tong, Holy Mushroom, Naisian, Haunted, Pabst, L.M.I., Fuzz Forward, Onségen Ensemble, The Heavy Eyes

Posted in Reviews on July 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

I always say the same thing on the Wednesday of the Quarterly Review. Day 3. The halfway point. I say it every time. The fact is, doing these things kind of takes it out of me. All of it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy listening to all these records — well, I don’t enjoy all of them, but I’m talking more about the process — just that it’s a lot to take in and by the time I’m done each day, let alone at the end of the week, I’m fairly exhausted. So every time we hit the halfway point of a Quarterly Review, I feel somewhat compelled to note it. Cresting the hill, as it were. It’s satisfying to get to this point without my head falling off.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Khemmis, Desolation

khemmis desolation

Continuing their proclivity for one-word titles, Denver doom forerunners Khemmis take a decisive turn toward the metallic with their third album for 20 Buck Spin, the six-track/41-minute Desolation. Songs like opener “Bloodletting” and its side B counterpart “The Seer” are still tinged with doom, but the NWOBHM gallop in “Isolation” and “Maw of Time” – as well as the sheer force of the latter – is an unexpected twist. Khemmis showed classic metal elements on 2016’s was-a-very-big-deal Hunted (review here) and 2015’s debut, Absolution (review here), but it’s a question of balance, and as they’ve once again worked with producer Dave Otero, one can only read the shift as a conscious decision. The harder edge suits them – certainly suits the screams in “Maw of Time” and side A finale/album highlight “Flesh to Nothing” – and as Khemmis further refine their sound, they craft its most individualized manifestation to-date. There’s no hearing Desolation and mistaking Khemmis for another band. They’ve come into their own.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin website

 

Morag Tong, Last Knell of Om

morag tong last knell of om

A rumbling entry into London’s Heavy Generation, the four-piece Morag Tong unfold voluminous ritual on their debut full-length, Last Knell of Om. Largely slow and largely toned, the work of guitarists Alex Clarke and Lewis Crane brings the low end to the forefront along with the bass of James Atha while drummer Adam Asquith pushes the lurch forward on cuts like “New Growth” and “To Soil,” the band seemingly most comfortable when engaged in crawling tempos and weighted pummel. Asquith also adds semi-shouted vocals to the mire, which, surrounded by distortion as they are, only make the proceedings sound even more massive. There’s an ambience to “We Answer” and near-13-minute closer “Ephemera: Stare Through the Deep,” which gives the record a suitably noisy finish, but much of what Morag Tong are going for in sound depends on the effectiveness of their tonality, and they’ve got that part down on their debut. Coupled with the meditative feel in some of this material, that shows marked potential on the band’s part for future growth.

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Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul

holy mushroom blood and soul

Working quickly to follow-up their earlier-2018 sophomore long-player, Moon (review here), Spain’s Holy Mushroom present Blood and Soul, an EP comprised of two songs recorded live in the studio. I’m not entirely sure why it’s split up at all, as the two-minute “Introito” – sure enough, a little introduction – feeds so smoothly into the 19-minute “Blood and Soul” itself, but fair enough either way as the trio shift between different instrumentation, incorporating sax, piano and organ among the guitar, bass, drums and vocals, and unfold a longform heavy psychedelic trip that not only builds on what they were doing with Moon but is every bit worthy of being released on its own. I don’t know if it was recorded at the same time as the record or later – both were done at Asturcon Studios – but it’s easy to see why the band would want to highlight “Blood and Moon.” Between the deep-running mix, the easy rhythmic flow into and out from drifting spaciousness, and the turn in the middle third toward more expansive arrangement elements, it’s an engaging motion that makes subtly difficult shifts seem utterly natural along the way. And even if you didn’t hear the latest full-length, Blood and Soul makes for a fitting introduction to who Holy Mushroom are as a band and what they can do.

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Clostridium Records website

 

Naisian, Rejoinder

naisian rejoinder

Sludge-infused noise rock serves as the backdrop for lyrical shenanigans on the three-song Rejoinder EP from Sheffield, UK, trio Naisian. Running just 12 minutes, it’s a quick and thickened pummel enacted by the band, who work in shades of post-metal for “90 ft. Stone,” “Mantis Rising” and “Lefole,” most especially in the middle cut, but even there, the focus in on harsh vocals and lumbering sonic heft. It’s now been seven years since the band sort-of issued their debut album, Mammalian, and six since they followed with the Monocle EP, and the time seems to have stripped down their sound to a degree. “Lefole” is the longest track on Rejoinder at 5:18 and it’s still shorter than every other song Naisian have put out to-date. Their crunch lacks nothing for impact, however, and to go with the swing of “Lefole,” everybody seems to contribute to a vocal assault that only adds to the punishing but thoughtful vibe.

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Haunted, Dayburner

haunted dayburner

The effects-laden vocal swirl at the outset of Haunted’s “Mourning Sun” and moments in the Italian act’s longer-form material, “Waterdawn” or “Orphic,” for example, will invariably lead some listeners to point to a Windhand influence, but the character of the band’s second album, Dayburner (on Twin Earth, DHU and Graven Earth all), follows their 2016 self-titled (review here) by holding steady to a developing identity of its own. To be sure, vocalist Christina Chimirri, guitarists Francesco Bauso and Francesco Orlando, bassist Frank Tudisco and drummer Dario Casabona make their way into a deep, murky swamp of modern doom in “Dayburner” (video posted here), but in the crush of their tones amid all that trance-inducing riffing, they cast themselves as an outfit seeking to express individuality within the set parameters of style. Their execution, then, is what it comes down to, and with “Orphic” (12:46) and “Vespertine” (13:19) back to back, there’s plenty of doom on the 66-minute 2LP to roll that out. And they do so in patient and successful form, with marked tonal vibrancy and a sense of controlling the storm they’re creating as they go.

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Twin Earth Records website

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Graven Earth Records webstore

 

Pabst, Chlorine

pabst chlorine

So, the aesthetic is different. Pabst play a blend of noise, post-punk, heavy rock and grunge, but with the ready pop influence — to wit, the outright danceability of “Shits,” reminiscent in its bounce of later Queens of the Stone Age – and persistent melodicism, there’s just a twinge of what Mars Red Sky did for heavy rolling riffs happening on Chlorine, their Crazysane Records debut. It’s in that blend of dense low-end fuzz and brighter vocal melodies, but again, Pabst, hailing from Berlin, are on their own trip. Weird but almost more enjoyable than it seems to want to be, the 12-track/35-minute outing indulges little and offers singalong-ready vibes in “Catching Feelings” and “Waterslide” while “Waiting Loop” chills out before the push of “Accelerate” and the angularity of “Cheapskate” take hold. Chrlorine careens and (blue) ribbons its way to the drive-fast-windows-open stylization of “Summer Never Came” and the finale “Under Water,” a vocal effect on the latter doing nothing to take away from its ultra-catchy hook. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a record someone with just the right kind of open mind can come to love.

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L.M.I., IV

lmi iv

If you’ve got a dank basement full of skinny college kids, chances are Lansdale, Pennsylvania’s L.M.I. are ready to tear their faces off. The sludge-thickened riff punkers run abut 11 minutes with their five-song release, L.M.I. IV, and that’s well enough time to get their message across. Actually, by the end of “Neck of Tension” and “Weaning Youth,” roughly four and half minutes in, the statement of intent is pretty clear. L.M.I. present furious but grooving hardcore punk more given to scathe than pummel, and their inclusions on L.M.I. IV bring that to life with due sense of controlled chaos. Centerpiece “Lurking Breath” gives way to “First to Dark” – the longest cut at a sprawling 2:55 – and they save a bit of grunge guitar scorch and lower-register growling for closer “June was a Test,” there isn’t really time in general for any redundancy to take hold. That suits the feeling of assault well, as L.M.I. get in and get out on the quick and once they’re gone, all that’s left to do is clean the blood off the walls.

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Fuzz Forward, Out of Nowhere

fuzz forward out of nowhere

Released one way or another through Discos Macarras, Odio Sonoro, Spinda Records and Red Sun Records, the eight-song/43-minute debut album from Barcelona’s Fuzz Forward, Out of Nowhere, has earned acclaim from multiple corners for its interpretation of grunge-era melodies through a varied heavy rock filter. Indeed, the vocals of Juan Gil – joined in the band by guitarist Edko Fuzz, bassist Jordi Vaquero and drummer Marc Rockenberg – pull the mind directly to a young Layne Staley, and forces one to realize it’s been a while since that low-in-the-mouth approach was so ubiquitous. It works well for Gil in the laid back “Summertime Somersaults” as well as the swinging, cowbell-infused later cut “Drained,” and as the band seems to foreshadow richer atmospheric exploration on “Thorns in Tongue” and “Torches,” they nonetheless maintain a focus on songwriting that grounds the proceedings and will hopefully continue to serve as their foundation as they move forward. No argument with the plaudits they’ve thus far received. Seems doubtful they’ll be the last.

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Onségen Ensemble, Duel

Onsegen ensemble duel

The kind of record you’re doing yourself a favor by hearing – a visionary cast of progressive psychedelia that teems with creative energy and is an inspiration even in the listening. Frankly, the only thing I’m not sure about when it comes to Oulu, Finland, outfit Onségen Enseble’s second album, Duel, is why it isn’t being released through Svart Records. It seems like such a natural fit, with the adventurous woodwinds on opener “Think Neither Good Nor Evil,” the meditative sprawl of the title-track (video posted here), the jazz-jam in the middle of “Dogma MMXVII,” the tribalist percussion anchoring the 12-minute “Three Calls of the Emperor’s Teacher,” which surely would otherwise float away under its own antigravity power, and the free-psych build of closer “Zodiacal Lights of Onségen,” which shimmers in otherworldly fashion and improvised-sounding spark. On Svart or not, Duel is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, and one the creativity of which puts it in a class of its own, even in the vast reaches of psychedelic rock. Whether it means to or not, it tells a story with sound, and that story should be heard.

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The Heavy Eyes, Live in Memphis

the heavy eyes live in memphis

Since so much of The Heavy Eyes’ studio presentation has consistently been about crispness of sound and structured songwriting, it’s kind of a relief to hear them knock into some feedback at the start of “Mannish Boy” at the outset of Live in Memphis (on Kozmik Artifactz). The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Tripp Shumake, bassist Wally Anderson and drummer Eric Garcia are still tight as hell, of course, and their material – drawn here from the band’s LPs, 2015’s He Dreams of Lions (review here), 2012’s Maera, 2011’s self-titled, as well as sundry shorter offerings – is likewise. They’ve never been an overly dangerous band, nor have they wanted to be, but the stage performance does add a bit of edge to “Iron Giants” from the debut, which is followed by singing “Happy Birthday” to a friend in the crowd. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Live in Memphis is hearing The Heavy Eyes loosen up a bit on stage, and hearing them sound like they’re having as good a time playing as the crowd is watching and hearing them do so. That sense of fun suits them well.

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The Heavy Eyes at Kozmik Artifactz

 

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