I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to check out the daily playlist feature that Slevin recently added to the Obelisk Radio updates page, but god damn, it’s frickin’ awesome. I get so stoked out on the stuff that’s played. Even when I don’t hear it — because I listen often but not 24 hours a day — it’s cool just to go through the day and see what’s played. Sometimes it’s like, “Oh yeah, I haven’t heard that in a long time!” and I’ll put a record on, and sometimes it’s a reminder of how badass a band was who aren’t doing much anymore. Earlier this afternoon I heard Swarm of the Lotus for the first time in a couple years and my head damn near exploded. Really wish that band had done a third album.
Anyhoo, if you get to check it out, I think it’s been a great addition to what The Obelisk Radio is, and of course huge thanks as always to Slevin for putting in the time and effort on this site’s behalf. It wouldn’t be here without him, so if you’re in North Jersey and you see him at the bar, please say thanks. A killer batch of stuff joined the playlist today, so let’s get to it.
The Obelisk Radio Adds for Aug. 8, 2014:
Naam, Live in Berlin
As Brooklyn heavy psych forerunners Naam get ready to head out on another European tour in September (dates here), they present Live in Berlin, a free-download three-track EP recorded earlier this year (or late last year) at White Trash Fast Food. It’s a brief glimpse at what they can do on stage, but gorgeously assembled all the same, with the wash of fuzzy guitar and organ/synth crafting one the East Coast’s most potent space rock sounds on the near-11-minute “Starchild,” the semi-title-track from 2012’s The Ballad of the Starchild EP (track stream here) and the two cuts from 2013’s Vow (review here) that follow, “On the Hour” and “Beyond.” Their style refined with years of road work and their performances no less dynamic on stage than in the studio, Live in Berlin is a no-brainer to grab while the grabbing’s good, particularly at the asking price, and Naam continue to deliver quality, vital psychedelia the influence others are only beginning to feel. Even in the shorter “On the Hour,” with its quicker rush and catchy vocal interplay, there’s room enough to prove immersive, which only shows how on fire this band is at the moment. Vow was their best work to date, Live in Berlin, if short, is a fair complement and a suitable holdover to whatever they might have coming next. Naam on Thee Facebooks, Live in Berlin on Bandcamp.
T.G. Olson, The Rough Embrace
Though the forms he’s working with for his solo material are familiar — Americana, folk and rambling acoustic country blues — Tanner Olson is so unrelentingly forward-moving as a songwriter that his output almost can’t help but be original. As the frontman for Across Tundras, he adds sonic weight to the equation, but performing under the moniker T.G. Olson, he captures a more intimate spirit. Nonetheless, The Rough Embrace, his latest outing, has plenty of lush moments, and even the wide open spaces of “Providence Gone Again” seem to be full of melody and subtly rich arrangements, a layer of slide guitar doing a lot of work in fleshing out the central guitar line. As Olson performed, recorded, mixed and released the album himself — Across Tundras bandmate Mikey Allred mastered; vinyl is reportedly forthcoming on their Electric Relics Records imprint — it’s fair to give him credit for these embellishments as well, and The Rough Embrace ultimately lives up much more to the latter part of its title than the former. Like everything else he puts out on the Across Tundras Bandcamp, Olson has made The Rough Embrace available as a name-your-price download, making it that much easier to get lost in the album’s wistful jangle and melancholy croon. Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Unconscious Collective, Pleistocene Moon
Noise rock and jazz have made strange enough bedfellows over the years, usually resulting in spastic, somewhat indulgent progressive stew, rawly presented. On their sophomore outing, the Tofu Carnage Records 2LP Pleistocene Moon, Dallas trio Unconscious Collective don’t so much try to impress with how many time signatures they can work into any given three-minute stretch as they do stretch out over long-form works — turning on a dime and plenty jagged, to be sure — but that put as much focus on atmosphere as on their bursts and fits. Pleistocene Moon is a whopping 78 minutes long, and in it the oft-costumed three-piece cast a wide stylistic net, but there’s also a natural sensibility in the room that comes through via spacious-sounding drums, and a live feel that permeates pieces like “Tribe Apini,” which feels if not made up on the spot then certainly performed that way, and the later “Methane Rising,” which brings in horns for an avant freakout of grand proportion that transitions into minimal droning in a fluid roll that continues onto side D with “The Transformation of Matter,” whose propulsive grooving and overarching foreboding feel reminds of a sans-vocal Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, which, if you have any idea who that is, should be enough of an endorsement to pique your interest. Unconscious Collective on Thee Facebooks, Tofu Carnage Records.
The Glorious Rebellion, I 7″
Taking elements from ’90s noise rock — most particularly Helmet‘s dissonant riffing — and merging with the burl of modern American heavy rock, Orlando, Florida’s The Glorious Rebellion debut with a two-song single on Magnetic Eye Records featuring the tracks “My Resume is a Suicide Note” and “Thanks to AA, I’m the DD.” Both songs offer lumbering riffs of considerable weight, and the latter proves even more aggro than the former, starting off with a spitting recitation of a verse over the bassline while the guitar and drums wait to kick in with the initial chorus. Glorious though the rebellion may be, it’s even more pissed off. The band keep to straightforward structures, prove capable of writing solid hooks and have a professional production, though there seems to be some play at a commercial appeal on the single, and I’m not sure how well that will serve them in these radio-less days of genre specialization. Still, it’s a significant push they showcase in about seven minutes’ time, and they’ve obviously got a handle on what they want to do as a band. For their first outing, there’s a lot that can be read into just two cuts. The Glorious Rebellion on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Toke, High Friends in Low Places
Toke hail from Wilmington, North Carolina, and specialize in riffy bruiser sludge, heavy on swing and heavy on riffs, topped with vicious screams in the vein of Bongzilla or, more closely, earlier Sourvein. This is the kind of band that gets compared to Eyehategod all the time, though there’s actually not that much in common. Their two-track outing, High Friends in Low Places, is their second demo following another earlier this year, and both “Into the Light” and “Great Awakening” tap straightforward riff-led pummel and throat-searing, weedian aggression. It isn’t exactly unique, but sometimes nothing will do but a good kick in the ass, and Toke seem glad to provide. With clean but not polished production and enough nod for a release twice as long, High Friends in Low Places meets the standard it sets for itself, and if Toke grow into an outfit more individualized or keep their approach strict to the tenets of Southern sludge, they seem to have gotten that part of the equation down early. Toke on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
You know how this goes by now. Of course this isn’t everything that joined the playlist this week, and unlike last time, I even managed to update the list before I put the post together saying I had updated the list. Progress! To see all of today’s adds, check out the playlist and updates page.
Thank you for reading and listening.