There’s little that’s more punk rock on this planet than DIY split vinyl singles. Yeah, yeah, mohawks, left-wing disaffection, etc., but seriously, there’s nothing more punk than a couple of bands getting together and pooling their utter lack of resources to put out the smallest of records, trinkets to sell in basements and so on. I’m not going to speculate as to the collective incomes of Bellringer, Toranavox, Flyin’ Lion and/or John Wesley Coleman III, but I’m going to guess their choice to combine their efforts on a new split 7″ is more about showcasing pan-Texan weirdness than not being able to afford any other option. Still, punk rock, dude.
Interesting to note that Bellringer‘s track, “A Girl Did It,” is only available on the vinyl, i.e., no streaming. You might recall Bellringer honcho Mark Deutrom did similar last year in a split with Australia’s Dead (review here). Seems like there might be a theme emerging there.
Here’s what the PR wire had to say about it:
BELLRINGER: Four-Way-Split EP With Other Texas Artists Available
Austin hooligan rock squad BELLRINGER — the live entity for the music of guitarist/vocalist Mark Deutrom (ex-Melvins, Clown Alley) – has released a limited four-way split 7″ EP, and has plans of releasing other new tunes in the months ahead.
The new BELLRINGER release sees the bandits uniting with three fellow Texan acts, Flyin Lion, John Wesley Coleman III, and Toranavox, each of whom provide their own spin on the record. The new single, “A Girl Did it” tells the story of what happens when girls get mad in the Lone Star State. Here, the outfit cranks up a solid, megafuzz slam-jam riff-rammer; a mostly-straightforward yet slightly off-kilter clock-cleaner that will get you fired-up for a bar-brawl-boogie in no time.
BELLRINGER’s “A Girl Did It” is available exclusively through this split on vinyl only — no digital, no 8-track. Order it while they last RIGHT HERE.
BELLRINGER ‘s most recent LP, Jettison, was released in September of last year. An expedition into dementia, exploring the back-alleys of psychedelic jazz/blues-infused rock, and the entire record backed by the feeling of chewing napalm bubble gum while tripping on peyote in a video game sequence.
Created as the live entity for the music of Deutrom, who performed bass in the Melvins’ Prick/Stoner Witch/Stag/Honky-era, preceded by Clown Alley, was a touring member of Sunn O))) and others, BELLRINGER also embodies musicians James Flores, Aaron Lack, Monique Ortiz, and Brian Ramirez. The outfit’s Jettison LP was fully written and produced by Deutrom, the album recorded in Austin earlier this year. The six expansive tracks on this new auditory trip traverse an immense volume of genre territory with nearly forty minutes of action, fusing elements of psychedelic and exploratory rock with bluesy and jazzy jam elements, all coalescing in the signature Mark D style. Outer-cosmos radioactive dust cloud soundscapes go head-to-head with lush, organic, earthling grooves, while a quirky edge stimulates hallucinations of animated characters colonizing psychedelic parallel existences.
You may or may not be overly concerned to find out, but we’re still running on the backup server for The Obelisk Radio while the data is transferred to the new hard drive. Judging by the number of listeners at any given point, you’re not. The numbers are still pretty good. Nonetheless, I cannot express the depth of my appreciation to Slevin for sorting out this mess. I had no idea when I hit him up on a Sunday to be like, “Uh, the stream is down” that it would be a project requiring more than a month of his valuable time. Dude is a godsend. I should send him a cheese basket.
Instead, he gets a zip file with the following releases to add to that temporary stream (they’ll go on the new server as well when that’s operational). Because I am a shitty friend, and because cheese baskets are expensive as hell. Let’s do this.
The Obelisk Radio Adds for April 10, 2017:
Tia Carrera, Laid Back (Frontside Rock ‘n’ Roll)
It’s been a hot minute since last we heard from Austin, Texas, three-piece instrumentalists Tia Carrera. The last offering the heavy psych jammers had out with a 2013 vinyl edition (review here) of their 2011 full-length, Cosmic Priestess (review here). So upwards of six years, if you want to go by the original release date of what was their second album for Small Stone Records. They reportedly have a new one coming this Fall, so one might think of the nine-and-half-minute single “Laid Back (Frontside Rock ‘n’ Roll),” which was recorded live this past January with the lineup of guitarist Jason Morales, bassist Curt Christiansen and drummer Erik Conn, as a lead-in for that. True, Tia Carrera haven’t been completely absent — they played Psycho Las Vegas in 2016 and one sees their name on various SXSW bills each year — but either way, it’s a welcome studio return from a band who were ahead of the post-Earthless curve that has swelled further out West, and who, despite a kind of raw, garage-style recording here, nonetheless showcase the chemistry and fluidity that separated them from the pack to start with. As the title promises, the jam is laid back, rife with swirling guitar, winding basslines and drumming that, while propulsive doesn’t take away from the languid overarching vibe. They’ve made the song a name-your-price download, so all the better should you be inclined to dig in. And you should be.
With nodding groove, fuzzed tonality and, for good measure, flourish of psychedelia, Brescia, Italy, trio Humulus may be working amid familiar elements on their second long-player, Reverently Heading into Nowhere (on Taxi Driver and Oak Island Records), but the results are impeccably constructed. The album, which follows their 2015 Electric Warlrus EP (review here) and 2012 self-titled debut, offers six tracks that carefully balance atmosphere and heft, cuts like “Catskull” digging into classic desert rock sensibilities via the modern European approach of a band like 1000mods while longer pieces like opener “Distant Deeps or Skies,” “Anachronaut” and the 11-minute finale “Rama Kushna” save room for increasingly expansive jamming, the latter the most spacious of all with floating guitar over a satisfyingly warm bass in its midsection leading to an instrumental apex that, while predictable, is no less engaging for that upon its arrival. Even shorter pieces like “The Gold Rush” and “The Great Hunt” find a balance between rolling rhythm and broader psychedelic consciousness, and when guitarist/vocalist Andrea Van Cleef, bassist Giorgio Bonacorsi and drummer Massimiliano Boventi lock into a slowdown, as at the end of “The Great Hunt” or in the Snail-esque“Anachronaut” earlier, the effect is duly massive to fit with the rhinoceros on the album’s cover. Their reverence is palpable, and throughout the 43-minute outing, Humulus make it plain that wherever they’re actually heading, they welcome their audience to come along for the trip.
King Buffalo, Live at Wicked Squid Studios (6.16.16)
It’s nothing more or less than a live set, but as King Buffalo have already wrapped a round of US touring and were recently announced as support for Stickman Records labelmates Elder on their next European run, it seems only fair to grab the name-your-price Live at Wicked Squid Studios (6.16.16) while the grabbing’s good and consider the four-track/29-minute release a document of their chemistry as a live band as they marked the release of their debut album, Orion (review here), last summer. Not everything they play comes from that record — “New Time” was featured on their 2015 STB Records split with Lé Betre (review here) — but in their tone, breadth and expanse, they represent the full-length all the same. The psychedelic wash of “New Time” leads the way out of opener “Orion” and into a one-two medley of “Kerosene / Goliath Pt. 2,” and they finish by setting the controls for the heart of a nine-minute rendition of “Drinking from the River Rising,” which also closed Orion and proves no less immersive in this setting than it did on the studio offering. I’ve made no secret of the potential that I think resides in the Rochester, NY, three-piece, and as they move further into becoming a touring band, they’re only doing the work of bringing that potential to life. It may be that at some point we’ll look back on Live at Wicked Squid Studios as a kind of primitive beginning — I don’t want to predict where they’ll go or how their sound will continue to develop — but even so, it’s fortunate that we’ll have it to look back on at all.
This shit is like catnip for riff-hounds. Iowan two-piece Telekinetic Yeti stoner-march their way into the hearts and minds of the converted and onto the list of 2017’s best debuts with Abominable (on Sump Pump Records), a clean eight-track/41-minute long-player marked out by its tonal thickness and shifts between using it for Sleep-style roll and fuzzier fare, perhaps most directly and efficiently summarized on the single “Stoned and Feathered,” but in fluid proportion throughout cuts like the lumbering “Lightbearer” and the neo-stoner-delic chug of “Beneath the Black Sun” as well. Comprised just of guitarist/vocalist Alex Baumann and drummer Anthony Dreyer — though I’ll be damned if somebody isn’t playing bass on “Electronaut” — Telekinetic Yeti seem to burst out of the gate with a solid idea of who their audience is and what their audience wants, and to their credit, they deliver just that and have been met with a flurry of hyperbole for their efforts. I can’t really argue with the heft or cohesion of the material on Abominable, and the willingness on the part of Baumann and Dreyer to inject some atmospheric depth into the aptly-named nine-minute tour de force “Colossus” and closer “Himalayan Hymn” bodes well for their chances of leaving a mark over the longer term, even if there’s growing to be done before they get there. Still, as their first time out, Telekinetic Yeti‘s Abominable signals a righteousness of intent and wholly succeeds in capturing the attention it plainly seeks. The next few years will write their story, but if these guys take this show on the road, they could indeed turn into a monster.
The story goes that Cinderland was recorded in Wyoming in a refurbished schoolhouse by the duo of ambient multi-instrumentalist Scott Morgan and classical cellist Mark Bridges — working together under the moniker High Plains — and composed very much with that high-altitude, utterly empty landscape in mind. Represented in a pervasive minimalism that makes every swell of volume on “The Dusk Pines” stand out and shifts between piano, cello, guitar, drone and electronics cinematic in their drama like the soundtrack to one of those foreboding Westerns where nobody talks because they’re afraid that if the earth hears them speak it will open up and swallow them whole — which it might — it is an immersive, resolutely melancholy execution across nine tracks and 36 minutes that is likewise stark and beautiful. “A White Truck” and “Hypoxia” carry some nuance of the paranoid, but there’s resolution in “Blood that Ran the Rapids” and “Song for a Last Night” that, like the high desert itself, teems with life while giving the impression of being a void for the lack of human presence. Mood-affecting in its atmospherics, Cinderland draws the listener into this world that is both gorgeous and threatening, and fits itself to the narrative that birthed it with resonance and depth. One hopes it is not a one-off collaboration between the Canadian Morgan and Wisconsin-based Bridges and that wherever their next trip together takes them — go to New Mexico! — they’re able to likewise capture the setting in such evocative fashion.
Hey, if you’re gonna be in Seattle, you might as well stop through the studio and record an album with Matt Bayles, right? That would seem to be the message put forth by Austin, Texas, heavy rockers Greenbeard as regards their new full-length due out this June on Sailor Records. They’ve yet to unveil any audio or the title of the follow-up to 2015’s Stoned at the Throne, but the plan is to do so next month, and before they get there, they’re saying goodbye to the debut with a new video for the track “Sativa Wizardia,” which opened the record. Heads up on this one, it’s a riffer.
It makes that plain from its first measure, and the five minutes that follow only underscore the point. With heavy rock shuffle, tonal density and cut-through vocals belting through a welcome hook, Greenbeard are part post-Uncle Acid strut and part classic stonerized blowout, and in that, it set up six tracks of dug-in riffing and heavy roll. It’s little surprise that the album received acclaim enough that the band can already count themselves veterans of SXSW, Psycho Las Vegas and Electric Funeral Fest, among others. Seems likely they could walk into just about any venue with electricity enough to handle their output and start turning at least a few heads in their direction on any given night.
To support their new one, they’ve got live dates booked before and after the June release, but it’s only fair to give Stoned at the Throne its due sendoff before they start gearing up to put their focus on moving forward with that record, for which, indeed, they traveled to Seattle to record with Matt Bayles, whose reputation of recording with Isis and Mastodon, etc., precedes him. Listening back to Stoned at the Throne, I’m intrigued to hear what Bayles brings to Greenbeard‘s sound. If you want a preliminary guess, mine is more volume and more depth, as both are specialties of the house in Bayles‘ work.
Please find the Tony Moser-directed clip for “Sativa Wizardia” below, followed by more info on the impending sophomore long-player and the band’s live dates.
Greenbeard has a new record completed and ready to go. The album name and artwork will be revealed on May 1. Additionally, the band will be announcing tour dates for the summer of 2017. On their 2016 tour, Greenbeard spent time in Seattle, recording their newest album with Matt Bayles (Minus the Bear, Isis, Botch, The Sword, Mastodon, A Storm of Light, Mono, etc.). This new album will be released on Sailor Records in June of 2017.
Greenbeard live: May 12 Dirty Dog Bar Austin, TX w/ Zed & Wasted Theory May 27 Smokestock All-Star Rock Bar Kansas City, MO Jun 14 Leftwoods Amarillo, TX Jun 15 Sister Bar Albuquerque, NM Jun 16 Electric Funeral Fest 2017 Hi-Dive Denver, CO Jun 21 Reggie’s Chicago, IL Jun 23 Cafe Berlin Columbia, MO Jun 26 Blue Note Oklahoma City, OK Jun 27 Curtain Club Dallas, TX
Greenbeard is: Chance Parker – guitar/vocals Dan Alvarez – bass Buddy Hachar – drums
Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Always a special moment in the Quarterly Review when we pass the halfway mark. That’s where today’s batch brings us, and in rocking style as well. You might say I’ve been taking it easy on myself with the selections this time out — albums there’s plenty to say on and generally good stuff — but the basic fact of the matter is even with 50 reviews in a week, this is still just a fraction of what’s out there and still just a fraction of what I’d cover if I had the time. I couldn’t in terms of my own sanity, but one could probably do 10 reviews a day every day of the year and still have room for more. I do the best I can. Picking and choosing is a part of that process. Let’s get to it.
Quarterly Review #21-30:
After the bold departure presented in 2014’s Shelter (review here) toward even-airier, more indie-hued fare, French post-black metal innovators Alcest make a no-less-bold return to their core sound – screams included, as they’re quick to show on “Eclosion” – with 2016’s Kodama (on Prophecy Productions). It’s a less progressive move, and for that distinct in Alcest’s discography, but one can’t argue with their execution of a track like “Je Suis d’Ailleurs” and the immediately recognizable melodic wash they craft, as resonant emotionally as it is heavy in its tone. Most of the six cuts seem contented to have (re-)found their place, but “Onyx” finishes out with just under four minutes of layered guitar droning, and so Alcest seem to tease that perhaps they’re not completely ready to settle the issue of their aesthetic just yet. One hopes that’s the case, and in the meantime, the reorientation that Kodama brings with it should no doubt please those longtime fans who bristled at the turn they made their last time out.
Galley Beggar’s fourth offering and second for Rise Above, Heathen Hymns, brings 42-minutes of the traditional acid folk one has come to expect from them over the last half-decade plus, no less graceful in its melodies, harmonies and weaving into and out of psychedelia, Eastern inflections on the sitar-laced “The Lake” and cleverly rhythmic in the post-rocking electric flourish of “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme.” Knowing what to expect, however, does nothing to diminish the joy of the listening experience. Rather, the return of Galley Beggar’s fluid string and/or more rock-based arrangements, memorable songcraft and gorgeous vocal treatments is welcome, and perhaps most of all on closer “My Return,” which draws their multiple sides together in a cohesive vision of futures past that only benefits from the maturity they’ve grown into. With poise as a defining feature as much as their British folk stylistic lineage, Galley Beggar remain a special outfit doing deeply individualized and satisfying work.
A steady foundation of low-end drone underpins songs like “Ignorance Makes Me High” and “Hidden Prettiness” on Pontiak’s Dialectic of Ignorance (released via Thrill Jockey), and though they move away from it somewhat in the more active freakout “Dirtbags,” the patience shown by the Virginian trio forms a key part of the album’s personality. To wit, they open with “Easy Does It,” essentially telling their listener their intention for what will ensue throughout the eight-track/46-minute offering. Brothers Jennings, Van and Lain Carney bring forth willful drift in that opener and across the percussive-but-still-shoegazing “Tomorrow is Forgetting,” finding an organ-laced folkadelic middle ground later in “Youth and Age” and punctuating the dreamy harmonized gorgeousness of “Herb is My Next Door Neighbor” with fervent tom runs and ping ride before closer “We’ve Fucked this Up” starts out amid blistering chaos only to smooth itself as it goes. Serene and somewhat moody to the same degree their last outing, 2014’s Innocence, was raw, Dialectic of Ignorance carries the feel of a personal journey undertaken, but is ultimately too warm in tone and melody not to welcome its audience to be a part of that as well.
Nearing the mark of their first decade together, Louisiana Southern heavy four-piece White Light Cemetery issue their second full-length, Careful What You Wish For, through Ripple Music and keep a steady focus on songcraft throughout. Heavy riffs, a bit of boogie on “Sky River” and the stomping “Better Days,” boozy Southern-isms on the directly countrified “On a Dime” and a cowbell-infused finish with “Bullet to Erase” – it’s only fair to say White Light Cemetery hit all the marks. The beery post-Deliverance execution of “Looking Out (For Number One)” will likely ring familiar to many who take it on, but that’s the idea, as vocalist/guitarist Shea Bearden, guitarist Ryan Robin, bassist Tara Miller and drummer Thomas Colley are clearly less concerned with reinventing rock in their own image than honoring the pantheon of those who’ve come before them in the style. Hard to argue with the ethic preached or the dual-guitar harmonies of “Quit Work, Make Music,” though the record as a whole seems awfully “workingman’s rock” for any such bohemian aspirations.
It’s been three years since next-gen Californian desert trio Fever Dog released their last album, Second Wind (review here), which was long on potential, big on songwriting and resonant in vibe. I’d been hoping for a third long-player in 2017, but even the arrival of new single Mainframe – which of course doesn’t preclude a subsequent album release – is fine by me, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Danny Graham, bassist Nathan Wood and drummer/organist/synthesist/vocalist Joshua Adams digging into progressive vibes on the title-track and the subsequent, talkbox-inclusive “Let Me Out.” I don’t know if they’re planning to press a 7” – somebody call H42 Records! – but the cover art certainly justifies one if the songs themselves don’t (and they do), and the name-your-price download comes with the raw 19-minute classic heavy rock jam “Alpha Waves Medley Live at Club 5,” which emits buzz like it’s a bootleg from 1973. If Mainframe is the process of Fever Dog getting weirder, it bodes well. All the more reason one might keep their fingers crossed for a new full-length.
“If you see him it’s much too late/Close your eyes, girl, accept your fate.” So goes the title-track hook of Duel’s Witchbanger, the Austin-based rockers’ second album for Heavy Psych Sounds. Released on a quick turnaround from last year’s debut, Fears of the Dead (review here), the eight-track/34-minute swaggerfest delves into fantasy themes drawn from classic metal – hard not to look at six-minute closer “Tigers and Rainbows” and not think of Dio, at least thematically – but cuts like “Astro Gypsy” and “Heart of the Sun” in the record’s midsection build on the ‘70s loyalism of the first outing and find guitarist/vocalist Tom Frank, guitarist Jeff Henson, bassist/vocalist Shaun Avants and drummer JD Shadowz clear in their intentions in that regard. Though it takes a sizable grain of salt to get over that title, Duel’s heavy rock traditionalism comes complemented by efficient songwriting and a natural-sounding recording that’s neither completely retro nor totally modern but draws strength and fullness from both sides. A worthy and rousing follow-up.
Seven Nines and Tens, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Slums
If the dates are to be believed, the second full-length from Vancouver’s Seven Nines and Tens, cleverly-titled Set the Controls for the Heart of the Slums, has roots going back to 2014, when basic live tracks were recorded and subsequently built on for about two years. Indeed, the four-song offering – whose tracks “I Come from Downtown,” “Metropolis Noir / Rigs” and closer “Rave Up” have been presented in the meantime as singles and/or on early 2017’s Live at the Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret – has plenty of layers in its heavy post-rock wash, and it’s with depth and heft that guitarist/bassist/vocalist David Cotton and drummer Mario Nieva (the current incarnation of the band has a different lineup), make their prevailing impression, be it in the roll of 13-minute “Metropolis Noir / Rigs” or the loud/quiet trades of “Dope Simple,” which follows. With a focus on atmosphere over structure, Seven Nines and Tens offer a quick 32-minute immersion that feels less pretentious than purposeful and would seem to have been worth the time it took to construct.
With their third album, Nijmegen’s Automatic Sam bring together a straightforward and coherent collection of well-intentioned semi-psychedelic heavy rock. Their past works, 2011’s Texino and 2013’s Sonic Whip, have been conceptual or at least thematic pieces, and it may be that the 13-track/38-minute Arcs (on Goomah Music) is as well, but if so, it would seem to find that theme in a vision of post-grunge ‘90s alt rock, cleanly and clearly executed and vibrant in the performance of vocalist/guitarist Pieter Holkenborg, guitarist/vocalist Rense Slings, bassist/vocalist Erik Harbers and drummer/vocalist Lars Spijkervet, who open with the five-minute “Ukiyo” (their longest inclusion; immediate points) and then run through a varied swath of shorter pieces from the attitude-laden “City Lights” through the uptempo post-punk of “This is Not a Holiday” and the fuller push of “Parnassia.” Side B seems more flowing, with that song, “Tarantula,” a complementary reprise, the title-track and drifting acoustic closer “So Long in E Minor,” but Automatic Sam manage to hone a diverse approach across Arcs’ span while skillfully directing themselves around choppier waters.
Ambition may be the defining aspect of Not the End of the World. The 2016 self-released debut from Birmingham, Alabama’s The Next Appointed Hour willfully refuses easy categorization, basking in bright psychedelic space rock harmonies one minute and digging into folkish melancholia the next in a way that one is left with no other option but to call “progressive.” What ultimately makes songs like “Keeper’s Heart” and the ethereal pop of “Back to You back to Me” work is an underlying cure of songcraft, and whatever ground the six-piece cover on the 10-track outing, from the fuzzy rush of “Drone Riot” to the trippy shimmer of the penultimate “Red Flame,” that core is maintained, uniting the material and making Not the End of the World a work of scope rather than haphazard. It requires an open mind, but rewards open-mindedness with moments like the accordion on “Valley,” or the rhythmic drift of “Any Who but Here,” the nuance of which is no less gracefully held together than the overarching flow of the album as a whole.
Already sold out on preorders, the vinyl edition of Superior Venus from UK cosmic jammers Blown Out features two tracks – one per side – of space-wash heavy righteousness. “Impious Oppressor” and “Superior Venus” both top 15 minutes (and are accompanied by demo versions if you get the download), and proffer the kind of progressive improvisation-based flow that, indeed, might make one inclined to get an order in while the getting’s good. Blown Out, with members of Bong and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, have put out a slew of live and studio releases over the last three years, but as planets invariably revolve in cyclical patterns, so too does the regular frequency of their work become part of the expression itself. If you’re going to jam, do it all the time. On Superior Venus, Blown Out once more bring this ethic to life, and the resulting material spreads itself wide over its still relatively brief span. A short trip to orbit, perhaps, but well worth the undertaking.
It would seem the release date for Duel‘s forthcoming second album, Witchbanger, has been pushed back a month since it was first announced with the cover art and tracklisting about two weeks ago. Fair enough. Heavy Psych Sounds — the imprint putting it out and the booking agency responsible for booking Duel‘s European tour, the dates for which are posted below — will be running preorders starting next week, and I guess it just means that the tour will be heralding the record’s arrival rather than supporting its recent release. In any case, probably won’t be the last time Duel head to Europe this touring cycle. There’s always Fall for a return trip, with plenty of festivals to pepper in around other shows.
For now though, this run starts April 26 in Rome, and you can see the rest of the routing in and under the poster below. It’s about a month on the road, all told, which is awesome. Heavy Psych Sounds had it posted on the social medias:
Duel – European Tour 2017
NEW ALBUM “WITCHBANGER” OUT MAY 28TH
PRE SALE MARCH 17TH
HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records & Booking is proud to announce Eu tour dates for DUEL
Sex, drugs, the occult and buckets of blood. Austin, Texas tripped out heavies DUEL release their second album “Witchbanger”. Eight hard hitting new tracks of deep grooves and blistering riffs paying tribute to the darker breed of early 70’s proto-metal and classic old school early 80’s heavy metal pioneers. Growling desperate vocals and angry fuzzed out guitars telling tales of horror and hallucination. Hard Rock as it should be totally pure and unpretentious.
Produced and engineered by lead guitarist Jeff Henson at his new studio Red Nova Ranch in the wastelands of Texas not far from the historic Texas Chainsaw Massacre house. Prepare for Hell or Valhalla, from start to finish this carefully crafted album WILL KILL YOU!
Duel Euro Tour 2017: 26.04.2017 IT Roma-Traffic 27.04.2017 IT Parma-Titty Twister 28.04.2017 CH Oberentfelden-Borom Pom Pom 29.04.2017 DE Berlin-Desert Fest 30.04.2017 DK Tba 01.05.2017 DK Copenhagen 02.05.2017 DK Secret Show 03.05.2017 SE Malmoe-Plan B 04.05.2017 DE Erfurt-AZJ 05.05.2017 DE Dresden-Chemiefabrik 06.05.2017 CH Winterthur-Gaswerk 07.05.2017 IT Varedo-Crazy Driver 08.05.2017 IT Zerobranco-Altroquando 09.05.2017 SL Izola-Hangar Bar 10.05.2017 IT Torino-Blah Blah 11.05.2017 CH St Gallen-Rumpeltum 12.05.2017 CH Basel-Art & Wheels Fest 13.05.2017 AT Bludenz-Villa K 14.05.2017 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse 16.05.2017 DE Karlsruhe-Akk 17.05.2017 DE Stuttgart-Keller Klub 18.05.2017 DE Freiburg-White Rabbit 19.05.2017 GR Athens-An Club “Sonic Ritual Fest” 20.05.2017 IT Mezzago-Bloom “Sonic Ritual Fest” 21.05.2017 IT Castel D’Ario-Hostaria
[Click play above to stream ‘Helter Skelter’ by Mothership. High Strangeness is out March 17 on Ripple Music and Heavy Psych Sounds.]
Texas heavy rock trio hit a crucial moment with their third album. Their first two records, 2012’s self-titled debut (review here) and the aptly-named 2014 follow-up, Mothership II (review here), brought them to the fore of the then-emergent/now-dominant Ripple Music as one of the label’s best acts and the seeming inheritors of a Lone Star heavy rock legacy spanning decades from Bloodrock and ZZ Top to Dixie Witch and Blood of the Sun. Persistent touring at home and abroad has brought them to the forefront of the US underground and they’re hitting a point where their reputation for an on-stage energy blast is preceding them. Accordingly, it’s time for the trio of guitarist/vocalist Kelley Juett, bassist/vocalist Kyle Juett and drummer Judge Smith to step up and claim that place as their own.
Easier said than done, but this is the place where High Strangeness — the third Mothership full-length and second for Ripple, with a release in Europe via Heavy Psych Sounds — sees them. They have moved beyond the brash upstart position where they started, having collectively played a disruptor role as only a badass guitar-led outfit can, and while no doubt each subsequent tour introduces them to new ears and eyes, among a core audience of the converted, they’ve become more of a known, established quantity. They demonstrated last time out that their songwriting could take a multifaceted approach to classic-style heavy rock, working in elements of psychedelia at a whim and more measured execution, and much to its and the band’s benefit, High Strangeness follows suit in not only expanding their palette, but doing so with a more stripped-down, from-the-stage sound.
While the Adam Burke cover art might lead one to think High Strangeness is gearing toward maximum lushness with its depth of color and detail, its eight-track/33-minute run goes the other way almost entirely. True, the intro title-track and the later subdued instrumental interlude “Eternal Trip” dip into patient psych and offer listeners a stretch to chill out, but Mothership are much more about the raw charge in tracks like “Ride the Sun” — the second cut and a nigh-on-flawless nod to ’90s-style stoner rock à la Fu Manchu — the subsequent chugger “Midnight Express” or the six-plus-minute finale “Speed Dealer,” and the sound and vibe of the album bolsters that intention. Hooks remain a consistent factor in their work — “Midnight Express” is infectious, as is side A closer “Crown of Lies,” as is side B opener and not-at-all-a-Beatles-cover “Helter Skelter” and so on — but a noteworthy change in production method, working at Fire Station Studios in San Marcos, Texas, with Crypt Trip‘s Ryan Lee to record and mix (Tony Reed of Mos Generator mastered), as opposed to the first two LPs, which were produced by Kent Stump of Wo Fat, seems to be the conscious choice driving the change in the overarching feel.
With distinct separation between the guitar, bass and drums, as well as some well-placed trades between the Juett brothers on vocals — perhaps best represented in the shift between the brief, penultimate “Wise Man” and “Speed Dealer” as High Strangeness rounds out — Mothership come across as professionally crisp but road-hardened, caked perhaps by the grit of the highways they’ve traveled. Kelley‘s solos on the galloping “Crown of Lies,” the motor-riffed “Ride the Sun” (in layers), snuck in toward the end of “Midnight Express,” etc., will likewise leave scorch marks as ever, but these too carry a rawer, more live impression. If Mothership are looking to represent what they do on tour in these tracks — and listening to the groove locked into at the end of “Helter Skelter,” it’s an easy argument to make that they are — then they’re doing it well. It sounds like a show one would want to catch.
And while there’s still an ‘album’ sensibility, as emphasized by “High Strangeness” itself at the outset — a hypnotic three-minute first impression the band righteously counteracts with the punch in the face of “Ride the Sun” — and the guitar-only spaciousness of “Eternal Trip” prior to the closing duo, it’s worth noting that the naturalistic feel of High Strangeness gives the Juetts and Smith an opportunity to highlight the efficiency in their songwriting in a way that their material simply hasn’t done before. Its 33-minute runtime is over 20 minutes shorter than was Mothership II, and so each track here does more work in crafting the spirit of the record, including those instrumental pieces, and while Mothership come across with fewer tonal frills than they have in the past, playing toward the organic roots of their approach suits them. They may not be upstarts anymore, but they’re still plenty brash.
It’s a wholly unpretentious front-to-back flow, asking next to nothing as far as indulgences and delivering on its early promises. As “Speed Dealer” rounds out — one would not say “winds down” for such a song — with its balance between speed and push and shouted vocals on top, rolling into its bigger-riffed second half, Mothership have found a way to continue their forward growth while driving toward this leaner modus. They could have gone either way and, to be perfectly honest, with the strength of their choruses they’d probably still come out successful in the end had they chosen a more grandiose path, but High Strangeness especially on repeat listens shows its maturity in making the exact moves it needs to make at exactly the times it needs to make them, and it would seem that Mothership — whose momentum carries right through each of these tracks and on to their next tour, recording, whatever it might be — have done exactly the same.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Let’s face facts: There shouldn’t be a single date on this tour that’s TBA. Sorry, but that’s the way it is. I’m not saying it’s a vast conspiracy or anything, but for real, Denver, Boise, San Francisco, San Diego, Tucson, etc., where are you on this one? Disenchanter and Doomstress hitting the road together? Between bands in the TBA geography and club promoters with nights to fill, it should be an absolute no-brainer for heavy rock heads. The call makes itself. Get on it if you’re not already on it.
Shit, you guys need a show in Massachusetts? Come on up, we’ll figure something out. Worst case, you play my house and I’ll make everyone a delicious low-carb dinner and milkshakes afterward. Yeah, I know it’s not exactly on the routing for a West Coast run, but a gig’s a gig. Let me know. Offer’s on the table.
Take a look at the dates below, and if you can help out the bands, it’s as easy as the paragraph above makes it sound. You can probably even let them fend for themselves as regards dinner, if that’s how it absolutely has to be:
DOOMSTRESS & DISENCHANTER – How the West was Doomed
This April, DHU Records labelemates: DOOMSTRESS (Houston, TX) & DISENCHANTER (Portland, OR) join up to tour the western US on the “How the West was Doomed Tour”.
Tour begins April 4th w/Doomstress in Colorado Springs, CO before being joined by up Disenchanter.
Doomstress & Disenchanter – “How the West was Doomed Tour” 4/4 Colorado Springs, CO @ The Triple Nickel (Doomstress only) 4/5 tba 4/6 Seattle, WA @ Darrell’s 4/7 Portland, OR @ Kenton Club (Doomstress only) 4/8 Eugene, OR @ The Boreal 4/9 tba 4/10 Sacramento, CA @ Starlite 4/11 tba 4/12 Los Angeles, CA @ The Complex (w/Old Blood) 4/13 Las Vegas, NV @ Beauty Bar (w/Demon Lung) 4/14 Flagstagff, AZ @ Green Room 4/15 Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad 4/16 tba
Doomstress is: Doomstress Alexis (bass & vox) Brandon Johnson (gtr/backing vox) Tomasz Scull (drums)
Disenchanter is: Sabine Stangenberg – Lead Guitar/Vocals Joey DeMartini – Bass
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
One-or-two-man Texan noise/sludge outfit Red Beard Wall released its first three-song demo just about a year ago, on Leap Day 2016. It’s still up as a name-your-price download on the band’s Bandcamp page — you can also hear it at the bottom of this post — and it has a tense, tight sound that’s informed by sludge groove without necessarily letting go of its abrasive aspects long enough to permit the genre’s fuckall to really take hold. That is, Red Beard Wall sound too pissed off on a song like “Top of the Mountain” to nod out. Still, there’s an air of the experimental underlying the whole thing, so who the hell knows where the album will end up.
Well, I guess Argonauta Records — which will issue Red Beard Wall‘s self-titled debut album this Spring — probably has a pretty good idea. I don’t, is the point I was making. The Italian label’s roster continues to grow wider and weirder, both of which are good things, and an act like Red Beard Wall would seem to bring something immediately all its own as well.
Here’s the announcement:
Red Beard Wall – Argonauta Records
We’re excited to announce a new great band is now part of Argonauta Records family: RED BEARD WALL from United States.
Red Beard Wall was born on the dry, windswept plains of West Texas, at the culmination of 2016. Formed out of a desire to channel his angst, and frustration with the insane reality that surrounds us. With a hyper focus on heavy, hooky, and to the point songs.
Riffs with devastatingly heavy tones, vocals melodies that soar, alongside blistering screams of disillusionment. Influenced by amazing bands such as, Floor, Helmet, Conan, Yob, Pallbearer, Baroness, and countless others.
The band says: “As a band we are extremely honored, privileged, and humbled by our partnership with the mighty Argonauta Records. We are motivated towards, and look forward to a bright future with, in our opinion the best up and coming label in the world”.
Red Beard Wall’s highly anticipated self titled debut record will be out in Spring 2017 on Argonauta Records.