The Obelisk Radio Adds: XII Boar, Deadpeach, Suzukiton, Torpor and Monsternaut

Posted in Radio on March 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

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Once again it’s been a couple weeks since I was last able to do a round of radio adds. But I have a good excuse! I was… uh… reviewing stuff? Well, that’s what I was doing, anyway. Anyhow, I’m way backed up on stuff to join the server, so for at least the next couple weeks it seems reasonable to expect regular adds while I get caught up. By then I’m sure I’ll be behind again, because somehow that’s how it works. Anyway, point is that as usual, a lot more was added to the server this afternoon than appears here, so make sure you check the Playlist and Updates page for the full list. Most of it is pretty new as well, so you might stumble on something you didn’t know was out. Could happen. Alright, let’s do this.

The Obelisk Radio adds for March 20, 2015:

XII Boar, Pitworthy

xii boar pitworthy

Before “Sharpshooter,” the opening track of their debut full-length, Pitworthy, actually starts, Hampshire, UK, trio XII Boar are introduced by a ring announcer in full arena-echo style. Somebody is about to get their ass kicked. That mentality tells you a lot about where the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hardrocks, bassist/vocalist Adam “Baddog” Thomas and drummer David Wilbraham are coming from on the 10-track outing, rife with heavy, Southern-style boogie presented with weighted burl whether it’s a slower groove like “Crushing the P” or a thrasher like “Chicken Hawk.” Side A caps with the title-track, a seven-minute Southern metal highlight, but the real party is at the end of the record’s second half, when the 11-minute “Quint” takes hold in a raucous fury of rhythmic thrust, seafaring tales and off-the-wall soloing. It is a riotous debut after a few promising EPs, and if nothing else, XII Boar make it clear that if anyone’s going to get their ass kicked, it won’t be the band. Their dudely growls and whisky this-or-that might be too much for some, but there’s no denying these guys sound like they’re having a blast, and that energy proves infectious throughout their first album. XII Boar on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Deadpeach, Old Fuzz Generation

deadpeach old fuzz generation

Underrated Italian fuzz rockers Deadpeach initially released the debut EP, Old Fuzz Generation, in 2004 on what was apparently severely limited vinyl. Then a three-song 7″, Old Fuzz Generation now sees a digital reissue as a four-track release with the three-minute “Spain ’87” added on to the end. All told, it’s still under 10 minutes long with all four cuts taken together, but while brief, there’s enough fuzzy rush to hearken back to a time when European heavy rock was less concerned with either psychedelic freeform jamming or sounding like it’s 1972, and that the thickened-out, sped-up punk of “Americano” (1:50) needed no frills to get its point across, tapping influences from NebulaFu Manchu and Kyuss even while quoting Bob Marley in the lyrics and expressing what was a pervasive anti-American sentiment throughout Europe following the US invasion of Iraq. Good times. Not really, but good fuzz, and twice as interesting when one considers how European heavy was on the verge of a multi-faceted explosion 11 years ago and Deadpeach were tapping into a similar classic heavy ethic as the likes of Demon Cleaner, earlier Dozer and their countrymen in OJM. A quick but satisfying stoner burst. Deadpeach on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Suzukiton, Suzukiton II

suzukiton suzukiton ii

Making their home in the fertile heavy ground of Richmond, Virginia, the instrumental four-piece Suzukiton made their debut a decade ago on Crucial Blast with Service Repair Handbook, a collection of distinctly Southern but still varied rockers that found a cult following at the time. Kind of a surprise to find that 10 years later, the four-piece of guitarists Todd Naumann and David Boyd (Twisted Tower Dire), bassist William Rose and drummer Bryan Cox (ex-Axehandle and Alabama Thunderpussy) would return with the self-released Suzukiton II, but the intervening time has done little to dull their potency, shredding leads cutting through tight rhythms in tones bordering between heavy rock and metal, a chugger like “Death of a Mule” no more out of place than a prog-metal stomper like “Ronin.” Closer “Todd II” would seem a direct sequel to “Todd Song” from the first album, but its eight-minute course feels more than duly expanded from the prior release. Thoughtful in its progressions and well-plotted within its individual pieces, Suzukiton II is nothing if not a welcome return, and if it’s the band’s position to blindside new listeners, that suits the material well. Suzukiton on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Torpor, From Nothing Comes Everything

torpor from nothing comes everything

Immediate points to UK atmospheric sludgers Torpor (also stylized in all-caps) for opening their Head of Crom and Black Bow Records debut LP, From Nothing Comes Everything, with “From this Time,” the longest song on the album. Follow-up points for the actual weight of the damn thing. Dense, post-metallic claustrophobia is undercut by trades between spoken or otherwise clearheaded shouts and vicious screams, the foursome of standalone vocalist Nats Spada, guitarist/vocalist Jon Taylor, bassist Lauren Mason and drummer Simon Mason successfully avoiding stylistic cliche throughout the six-track release while executing lethal builds and thunder-toned push. “Surrender to the Light” is as effective for its melody as its chug, the obscure interlude “The Wake” rumbles and growls ferociously, and “As Waves Crash” demonstrates a powerful blend of post-hardcore and doom, from which “Abandon” departs only momentarily, delving into a minimalist midsection before rounding out with a maddening payoff. Nine-minute closer “Everything We Left Behind” might as well be made of skull fragments and burst eardrums, its heft giving way gradually to deconstructed ambience and a finale of abrasive noise. Torpor‘s first is brutal, fierce and terrifying most of all for how solidified and assured the band sounds in their aesthetic — how at home they are in the churning chaos they’ve made. Torpor on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, at Head of Crom, Black Bow Records.

Monsternaut, Monsternaut

monsternut monsternaut

If the art wasn’t clue enough, Monsternaut‘s Monsternaut EP is a stoner rock record. Its motor revs in opener “Dog Town” and doesn’t let up until it hits the slowdown in closer “Black Horizon,” which wraps the Kerava, Finland, trio’s 18-minute debut outing with a fitting show of swing, choice basslines and nod-worthy fuckall. There’s plenty about the five tracks that will prove familiar to listeners who may have seen a record with an El Camino (admittedly, a gorgeous one) on the cover before, but there’s a next-generation freshness in Monsternaut‘s barebones, unabashed heavy rock approach, and cuts like “Back for More” and “Mountain Doom” prove deceptively catchy while also tapping tonal satisfaction in the guitar, bass and drums — Jani Kuusela‘s snare and kick landing no less heavy than Tuomas Heiskanen‘s riffs or Perttu Härkönen‘s low end — and the thud of “Caravan” and the straightforward, unpretentious vibe of all the tracks suits a presentation of genre that offers an edge of individuality while immediately doing more than just aping the band’s stylistic forebear(d)s. In heft, mood and songwriting, it’s a more than solid showcase of a progression underway. Monsternaut on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

As previously noted, this is just a fraction of the stuff that joined the server today — one-third, if you want to be more specific about that fraction. To check out everything else or to see what’s been played today and for probably way further back than you’re interested in knowing, check out the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page. Hope you find something good from it.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Black Pussy, Time Rift, The Dust Bowl, The Sorrows and Einstein-Rosen

Posted in Radio on January 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

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If I told you it was a varied bunch of stuff added to the server today, would you believe me? Seems I say the same thing every time I do one of these posts, but it applies each time, anyhow. This is the second round of adds of 2015, which means I’m two-for-two on weeks for the year. I doubt very much I’ll be able to keep that pace until we get to 2016 — which sounds like a distant and horrifying future in which cars fly and people work diligently to cure Martians of chicken pox — but it’s good for now. I’m trying to keep more of a handle on reviews than I did last year, and things like this help.

Though it’s only been a week and files haven’t had too much time to pile up — again, that’s the whole idea — there are still 11 records new to the playlist as of this afternoon, so please feel free to hit up the Updates and Playlist Page and check out the full batch for yourself. And with that link plugged, let’s get to it.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Jan. 16, 2015:

Black Pussy, Magic Mustache

MAGICMUSTACHE-cover

After an interim split with Biblical Proof of UFOs that boasted the 20-minute jam “Galaxies,” Portland, Oregon’s Black Pussy return with their second full-length, Magic Mustache, which takes the hazy heavy psych of 2012’s On Blonde and gives it focus around natural tones, brazen hooks and diligently fuzzed variety, tripping out with synth and guitar effects on cuts like “Protopipe” and the brief-but-nod-worthy “Farrah Fawcett” while going full-on Queens of the Stone Age bounce on lead-single “For the Sake of Argument,” motorik space-rock on “Happy” and upping the lysergic swirl on the seven-minute closing title-track. It’s a quality record from a band with a rich sound, engaging songwriting and a well-honed psychedelia, a molten flow on “Lion’s Breath” and “On Top of the World” and others, and while every time I listen to it I can’t help but be bummed out by their moniker — which, despite being Black Pussy is so white and so male in its appropriation; no less so now than when The Rolling Stones picked it as the original title of “Brown Sugar” — I won’t discount the vibe that’s melted all over this material. Still, the distraction takes away from an otherwise righteous listening experience, and at least in my view, hurts a killer band. I wonder if it’s worth it. Black Pussy on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Time Rift, Demo 2015

time rift demo 2015

But for the portraiture of the cover art, one might be tempted to call Demo 2015 a humble beginning for Portland trio Time Rift, whose launch represents a restart for vocalist/bassist Levi Campbell, guitarist Justin Kaye, and drummer Matt Amott, a three-piece formerly operating under the moniker Doomsower. To their credit, Time Rift is a better name, but more than just a switch, Demo 2015 presents them as an entirely new band, more rock-based, rawer in a ’70s-style presentation and less outwardly doomed. Even the seven-minute “The Cimmerian,” which dives headfirst into pre-NWOBHM early metal idolatry (and, yes, gets fairly doomed), keeps a melodic focus, and if there was a need to redirect their approach, at least Time Rift was able to do so while building on the chemistry already developing between them. The short, swing-heavy “Dusty Shelf” and layered vocal chorus of “Demon Hex” and proto-catchiness of “Starcrossed” legitimately sound like CampbellKaye and Amott have gone back to the start, and the exploration they’re embarking on seems like one well worth pursuing. One hopes they’re in a place sound-wise where they want to be, because it suits them. Time Rift on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

The Dust Bowl, Sangre Grande

the dust bowl sangre grande

Spanish heavy rockers The Dust Bowl released their second album, Sangre Grande, late last year and with it, they revel in grunge and desert rock atmospherics. Produced and mixed by guitarist César Royo (also organ, percussion, harmonica, etc.), it’s a vigilantly straightforward offering, delving into pop showmanship on “Bad Feeling,” but otherwise nestling cleanly into the post-QOTSA milieu of crunchy tones, strong hooks and melodic vocals. “Flow down this River” might be its most “the ’90s” moment, but there’s some stiff competition in that regard, while the quietly pulsing “Aqua de 1000 Cactus” brings to mind Kyuss‘ “Space Cadet” before the title-track finishes out in more raucous instrumental fashion. Touches of acoustic guitar, percussion, djembe, organ, backing vocals, and so on give their arrangements more depth than they might otherwise have, but at their core, The Dust Bowl – Royo, vocalist José Ángel Navarro, bassist Alejandro “Vilo” Viloria and drummer Manuel Navarro — are well rooted in the tenets of their genre, and they bring forth an able execution thereof. The Dust Bowl on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

The Sorrows, Gonna Find a Cave

the sorrows gonna find a cave

Some lines it’s hard to make sound cool, but I firmly believe that if The Sorrows can sell, “Wanna be your ever-lovin’ caveman,” they can do just about anything. The reactivated UK group had a couple of singles out in the ’60s, but the three-song Gonna Find a Cave 7″ is brand new, though you’d hardly know it from the sound of the ultra-catchy title-track, or “Don’t Do That” and “Doin’ Alright Tonight,” which follow. The last of them has some touches of what could be an acknowledgement that the ’70s or anything thereafter happened and is so immediately familiar that it has me wondering if it’s a cover and I just can’t place it (any help in that regard is appreciated), but otherwise vocalist Don Fardon and company revel in pure 1965, pre-psychedelic pop rock, right at that moment after the British Invasion but before all the freakout that came next. It’s a place just about nobody these days dares inhabit, and the fact that they were there the first time around only makes Gonna Find a Cave more of a curio. Rise Above Records has unearthed some fascinating releases with roots in this era (see also their Rog & Pip compendium, issued last year), and The Sorrows bring it to life with unquestionable realism on these tracks. The Sorrows at Rise Above Records, Rise Above on Soundcloud.

Einstein-Rosen, Le Pont Noir

einstein-rosen le pont noir

Acoustic intro “Prologue” sets a brooding tone for Le Pont Noir, the debut full-length from Quebecois prog metal instrumental outfit Einstein-Rosen, a solo-project from Louis-Alexandre Jacques, who doubles as guitarist in stoner metallers Grand MorneJacques plays all the instruments on Le Pont Noir, which is all the more impressive when he gets down to the shifting tempos and blastbeats in “Vénérable Vestige,” but the entirety of the album proves more dynamic than one might think for being executed by just one player, breaking into two sides as “Isthme” leads the way into the solo-topped “Neptune” at the start of the second half, the alternating thrash and plod of “Vortex” giving over to cinematic ambience as the nine-minute “Brume Quantique” closes out. Shred-prone stretches like those of “Ruinam” and “Vortex” tell the story of Jacques‘ underlying metal influence, but he seems no more likely to be kept to one single style as to one single band, and Einstein-Rosen‘s first outing only heralds development of an even broader reach. Einstein-Rosen on Bandcamp, Grand Morne on Thee Facebooks.

There you have it. Don’t forget that to see what’s been played today and what else got added, you can always check out The Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates Page. It wants to be your friend.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Jakob Skøtt, Sleeping Pulse, Palm Desert, High Fighter and Sans Soleil

Posted in Radio on November 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

Managing to do rounds of adds to The Obelisk Radio two weeks in a row? Why, that’s almost too much on-it to bear. I’ll try really hard to contain my self-satisfaction. Okay no I won’t.

A pretty diverse bunch of records joining the playlist today. There are 11 total that went up, and in addition to correcting the oversight of not having put up YOB‘s Clearing the Path to Ascend yet (infinite apologies), there are also new ones from Lord Dying and PrimordialIt’s Casual and the recently-reviewed Elephant Tree. Also the Atavismo that I put up the info for the other day and which will be reviewed at some point soon, and five records I thought it would be worth highlighting out of the bunch. Some of these artists I’m sure you know, one or two maybe not, but again, it’s a fairly wide stylistic berth and that’s just the way I like it best.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Nov. 14, 2014:

Jakob Skøtt, Taurus Rising

jakob skott taurus rising
His third solo album, Taurus Rising is also the second of the year for Copenhagen-based Causa Sui drummer Jakob Skøtt. Released through El Paraiso Records, it continues in the vein of earlier 2014’s Amor Fati in pursuing more of a full-band vibe, but strips that down somewhat to incorporate just synth and live drums. The result across Taurus Rising‘s five tracks is an unremitting progressivism, showcasing Skøtt‘s allegiance to krautrock in songs like opener “Escape from the Keep” while the centerpiece “Pleiades” has a little more of a psychedelic swirl. Keyboards arrive in multiple layers throughout, filling out the mix, and Taurus Rising becomes all the more impressive when one considers that Skøtt is essentially jamming with himself. He does so with a strong sense of evoking varied atmosphere from the tracks, the closing duo of “Bucket Brigades” (10:13) and “Taurus Ascendant” (7:59) pushing deep into spaced-out dynamics and, in the case of the latter, providing the album with its fullest wash and most satisfying linear build. Whether or not Skøtt intends to keep up this pace of releases, I don’t know — no reason not to so long as he’s inspired; it’s his playing, recording and label — but the prog-jazz sensibility of Taurus Rising seems ripe for further development. Jakob Skøtt on Thee Facebooks, El Paraiso Records.

Sleeping Pulse, Under the Same Sky

sleeping pulse unde the same sky

Sleeping Pulse are not yet fully through “Parasite,” the opening track on their Prophecy Productions debut, Under the Same Sky, before Mick Moss lets loose the full emotional juggernaut of his vocal delivery. The duo is a collaboration between Moss, best known as the frontman and founder of Antimatter, and Portugal-based guitarist Luís Fazendeiro of Painted Black, who wrote the music. At 10 songs and 55 minutes, Under the Same Sky is tied together both through Moss‘ voice and a persistent airiness that, were it not so cleanly presented, I’d almost be tempted to call post-rock. It is darkly progressive, and the lyrics match, weaving tales of manipulation in the subtly building “The Puppeteer” (also watch out for the sampled applause about a minute in) and betrayal throughout moody cuts like the later “Noose” and “War.” For those who know Antimatter – whose latest full-length, Fear of a Unique Identity (review here), was released in 2012 — Sleeping Pulse finds Moss well in his element across the board, but Fazendeiro varies the style such that the piano-led “The Blind Lead the Blind” and emergent distortion chug of “Painted Rust” fit well alongside each other, and Under the Same Sky flows smoothly to its concluding title-track, a minimal piano piece backed by ebow-style tones and once more showcasing the resonance in Moss‘ blend of fragility and defiance. A sleeper not to be slept on, particularly with winter ahead. Sleeping Pulse on Thee Facebooks, Prophecy Productions.

Palm Desert, Pearls from the Muddy Hollow

palm desert pearls from the muddy hollow

Perhaps unsurprising when one considers they take their name from the hometown of California’s ’90s desert rock movement, but Poland’s Palm Desert owe a large sonic debt to Kyuss. In the Wroc?aw four-piece’s style of riffing, tonality and propensity for the occasional stoner jam on their third album, Pearls from the Muddy Hollow (Krauted Mind Records), they show their allegiance to the desert style and its blend of fuzzed-up punk and laid back psychedelia. Vocalist Wojciech Ga?uszka helps change things up, however, with some elements of Soundgarden-era Chris Cornell to go with periodic John Garcia gruffness, so that Pearls from the Muddy Hollow‘s nine tracks make a suitable companion piece to Steak‘s 2014 full-length debut, Slab City, which basks in a similar mindset. That’s not to say Palm Desert bring nothing of their own to the style — both the quick “Rise Above” (not a Black Flag cover) and extended closer “Forward in the Sun” (8:19) branch beyond idolatry to an individualized moment — just that the resounding impression throughout Pearls from the Muddy Hollow is Kyuss loyalism. Within the style, they do well in portraying a warm-toned feel and shift smoothly between movements both inside of and between their songs. They’re not revolutionary, but Palm Desert do justice to a familiar sound and sometimes that’s plenty to make for a quality record. Another decent bit of output from Poland’s fertile scene. Palm Desert on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

High Fighter, The Goat Ritual EP

high fighter the goat ritual

Formed earlier this year as an amalgam of members from A Million Miles and Buffalo Hump, Hamburg, Germany’s High Fighter storm out of the gate with the five-song The Goat Ritual EP, a 21-minute thrust of modern metal and heavy rock ideals. Vocalist Mona Miluski shifts readily between a bluesy clean delivery and searing screams over the nod-ready riffing of guitarists Christian “Shi” Pappas and Ingwer Boysen, bassist Constantin Wüst and drummer Thomas Wildelau trading off between riding the grooves on “2Steps Blueskill” and energizing the bounce on “Fire in the Sun.” Second cut “Breaking Goat Mountains” seems to be particularly geared toward Kyuss‘ “Green Machine” in its riff, but bleaker, screamier centerpiece “Black Waters” shifts between the EP’s heaviest assault and a guitar-only peaceful moment that rounds out with a bit of fading feedback that leads to the wakeup punch of “Fire in the Sun,” in turn given over to the mosh fodder of “In Veins”‘s early going, which somehow transitions into more laid-back heaviness in its second half, of course building back to the initial riff to round out. In its production and much of its execution, it’s metal, but High Fighter keep command of heavy rock elements in such a way as to showcase the nascent moments of what has the potential to be a fascinating progression. The ritual, it would seem, is only beginning. High Fighter on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Sans Soleil, A Holy Land beneath a Godless Sky

sans soleil a holy land beneath a godless sky

Calling a string-infused, instrumental post-metal release “atmospheric” seems completely superfluous, but Austin fivesome Sans Soleil put enough of a focus on ambience throughout their four-track Tofu Carnage Records debut long-player, A Holy Land beneath a Godless Sky, that to not say so would be worse. Eva Vonne‘s viola plays a major role in the band’s sound on “A Holy Land” and is complemented there and thereafter by guitarists Dustin Anderson and Lee Frejyalune and bassist Theron Rhoten, but it doesn’t come across as trying to fill a gap where vocals might otherwise be, instead just a weaving current between the distortion and sub-doom plod of drummer Zach Hoop, whose crash distinguishes itself on “An Umbral Plain” in keeping a slow march together early and moving fluidly to double-time in the middle third. Dense but not claustrophobic, the subsequent “Across Brilliant Sands” opens direct interplay between Vonne and a line of lead guitar before moving into Grayceon-style sparseness and explosion, or at least a more doomed interpretation thereof, and building to what feels like an apex for the album until the 11-minute closer “Beneath a Godless Sky” busts into a gallop as it passes the halfway point and relents from there only to resume again with greater force, closing out A Holy Land beneath a Godless Sky with a fitting push to coincide with the tonal weight preceding. An exciting and engaging debut from a group who arrive with a firm sense of what they want to convey sonically and emotionally. Sans Soleil on Thee Facebooks, Tofu Carnage Records.

Like I said at the outset, a little all over the place this week, but hopefully you find something to dig one way or another. To check out the full list of adds for this week and every week back to late 2012, and to see what’s been played on The Obelisk Radio today (some good stuff there), check out The Obelisk Radio Updates and Playlist page. It’s where the cool kids hang out, or something.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Naam, T.G. Olson, The Glorious Rebellion, Unconscious Collective and Toke

Posted in Radio on August 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

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 BandcampOlson 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.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Sleep, Red Fang, Deamon’s Child, The Jackpine Snag, Cruthu

Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I guess this is the part where I complain about lack of time, blah blah blah. Last week was a mess, it’s true, as were the last couple days, but what it comes down to is I do what I can when I can. That’s been my policy all along. A couple of these discs — CruthuDeamon’s Child — are my own rips as well from discs that were sent in, and as ever, there’s more that went up than just what is listed here. So one way or another, activity abounds. I need to find out how close I am to filling the three terabytes of the hard drive used for the server, but until then, the additions will continue unabated. It’s good to keep busy.

The Obelisk Radio adds for July 31, 2014:

Sleep, “The Clarity”

To call the first new Sleep track since Dopesmoker an “event” would be underselling it. “The Clarity” arrives via the Adult Swim Singles Series not only as the Iommian legends’ first outing since that landmark release, but also their debut recording with drummer Jason Roeder and their first studio work since guitarist Matt Pike and bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros went on to destroy/expand minds in High on Fire and Om, respectively, for the last decade-plus. A near-10-minute stonerly sprawl finds Sleep‘s central methodology intact. Grown up some from what it was 20 years ago, expectedly, but loyal to what they were without trying to recapture a magic that’s gone with that time. Cisneros has taken some flack for not roughing up his vocals à la Sleep’s Holy Mountain, but from where I sit, his cadence and cleaner style only makes “The Clarity” more honest, and if lyrics like “Iommic life complete” and “The dealer is my refuge” are easier to understand, you won’t find me complaining. They jam out most of the song’s second half, and ultimately “The Clarity” collapses in a sudden cut, leaving you to wonder if it ever happened at all — until of course you go back to the start for another glorious hit. If this portends more to come, I’m even more excited about the prospect of new Sleep than I was before the single arrived. Sleep on Thee Facebooks, Adult Swim Singles.

Deamon’s Child, Deamon’s Child

Even before you get to the dolphin sample in “Delfine,” and the garage thrashiness of the subsequent “Alles Bio, Immer Bio,” German trio Deamon’s Child give some hints that there’s more to what they do than the standard heavy noise rock. Comprised of guitarist Sven “Missu” Missulis (aka John Reebo of Reebosound, also ex-Psychedelic Avengers), bassist/vocalist Ana Maija Muhi (who also contributed to Reebosound‘s 2010 outing, This is Reebosound) and drummer Tim Mohr (also WhiteBuzz), Deamon’s Child debuted last year with an engaging demo and follow it with a self-titled debut of increased complexity and a sound that’s varied without the pretense, culling together punk, grunge, heavy rock and noise to create songs that feel like they could turn in any direction at once. The production plays up the frayed edges, and Muhi‘s layered vocals on a chugger like “Lutscher!” sound all the more Melvins-esque. Deamon’s Child is loaded with surprises, but doesn’t feel any more haphazard than it’s meant to, and while it may take a couple listens to catch up to it, the songs are consistent in their invitation for repeat visits. Deamon’s Child on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Red Fang, TeamRock.com Presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red Fang

A free Red Fang acoustic EP — who’s going to argue with that? Not me, though the cumbersome and corporate-style title leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, once you get through all the namebrandery, what you come out with are acoustic renditions from Red Fang of “Failure” from late 2013’s Whales and Leeches and “Malverde” and “Human Herd” from the preceding 2011 outing, Murder the Mountains (review here). Hearing guitarist Bryan Giles soften up his usually-rough vocal approach on “Malverde” is interesting, given how much of the album version of that track is about the impact of the thing, but “Failure” becomes a brooding plea rather than the threat it is at full thrust, and “Human Herd” a kind of meditation that makes for the highlight of the whole release. One tries not to read too much into what was clearly a one-off thing, but it would be cool to hear what an acoustic album track from Red Fang might sound like. Their songwriting clearly translates, and between Giles and bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam – let’s not forget guitarist David Sullivan or drummer John Sherman – they prove here they can pull it off sounding confident and comfortable. Kind of an unexpected turn from the chicanery-fueled rock we’re used to from Red Fang, but they’re as easy to dig as ever on (deep breath) TeamRock.com Presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red FangRed Fang on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

The Jackpine Snag, The Fire Tower EP

Tonally, Michigan’s The Jackpine Snag seem rooted in punk, but a strong undercurrent of the weirdo runs throughout the songs on their new EP, The Fire Tower, and whether it’s the shouting on “With Wings” or “The Missaukee Strut” or the motoring noise of closer “Gonna Wreck My Life,” the trio present an individualized approach to bruiser expression. The Fire Tower is their longest outing yet at seven songs following a four-track 2013 debut 7″, but they have no trouble changing up their take enough to hold interest, while also keeping the tracks themselves relatively lean and concise. Maybe what the EP does best is balance that efficiency with a loose, tossoff-punker vibe, but The Jackpine Snag – guitarist/vocalist Joe Hart, bassist Jason Roedel and drummer Todd Karinen – show a keen awareness of how far out they want to go and how oddball they want to get in their ragged, grungy craftsmanship. No doubt that will serve them well should they decide next to tackle a debut full-length. The Jackpine Snag on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Cruthu, Creation Demo

The debut release from Lansing, Michigan’s Cruthu, the Creation Demo culls together an initial three tracks that sound somewhat raw but hold significant stylistic promise, blending a heavy ’70s psych-blues mentality with drearier rock tendencies and analog worship. Frontwoman Teri Brown provides a soulful lift to “S.O.S.,” as guitarist Dan McCormick leads bassist Scott Lehman and drummer Matt Fry through a subtly doomed murk, but pushes into rawer, strained-throat vocalizing on “Walk with Me” that immediately stands the Creation Demo apart from much of what claims to have been recorded live in terms of sheer honesty. And to Cruthu‘s further credit, I don’t think the tracks were recorded live. Particularly in “Separated from the Herd” and “Walk with Me,” which closes, Cruthu find some room for instrumental exploration along with Brown‘s vocals, and the path they’re on suits them well as the demo plays out. I’d be interested to hear them branch out further instrumentally, get weird with some percussion or strings or psychedelics, but there’s time for such things, and they’re off to an evocative start. Cruthu on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Like I said, there’s a lot more that went up this week than is listed here. Check out The Obelisk Radio playlist/updates page for the complete list.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Iron Man (x2), Electric Citizen, Disenchanter, Junior Bruce and Anuseye

Posted in Radio on May 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click here to listen.

This week brings even more radio adds than I expected. I had kind of a hard time whittling it down to figure what I wanted to write about, to be honest with you, but we got there in the end, and I’m thrilled to have another batch of additions to the playlist for this week. Doing this seems to have quickly become a Friday ritual for me, and frankly, I can think of worse ways to spend the afternoon than listening to and writing about a bunch of records. Like just about everything else, for example.

Adds for May 30, 2014:

Iron Man, The Passage & Generation Void

Two brand new vinyl reissues from Shadow Kingdom Records. Digital promos are particularly useless in the case of badass LPs, and I’m pretty sure both of these albums by Maryland doom stalwarts Iron Man, 1994’s sophomore outing, The Passage, and it’s 1999 follow-up, Generation Void, are already on the Radio playlist, but screw it, it’s Iron Man. If the chances of hearing an Iron Man song go up with each file added, then it’s worth tossing both of these records on the server. Generation Void is a full-on lost classic of doom, and if you don’t already own it, I’d imagine the vinyl of The Passage justifies picking it up based on the artwork alone. Either way, you’re never gonna lose when it comes to these guys, and Shadow Kingdom‘s loyalty in following up its CD reissues with LP versions is commendable. On Thee Facebooks, Shadow Kingdom website.

Electric Citizen, Sateen

Led by guitarist Ross Dolan and vocalist Laura Dolan, this Cincinnati four-piece traffic in high-order retro-minded Sabbathisms that keep in mind just how much boogie went along with all that darkness. To wit, the shuffle at the heart of the organ-laced “The Trap” and “Burning in Hell” or the push in the earlier “Magnetic Man.” Sateen, the band’s debut on RidingEasy Records, features riffs and leads heavily, and Laura‘s croon never strays from the forefront in delivering a barrage of hooks through the ’70s-worship production, but as with Sabbath themselves, the foundation of what Electric Citizen accomplish in these memorable, immediately familiar tracks is built on a foundation of rhythmic excellence in the bass and drums, here provided by Nick Vogelpohl and Nate Wagner, respectively. That organ ain’t half-bad either. The album arrives with no shortage of hype, but it’s a shockingly cohesive debut in style and performance, and the songwriting more than earns its way. On Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.

Disenchanter, On through Portals

The Sept. 2013 Back to Earth demo from Portland, Oregon, doom-blues metallers Disenchanter has been sitting on my desk for an embarrassingly long time. That release is added to the playlist as well, but on the early-2014 follow-up, On through Portals, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Sabine Stangenberg, bassist Joey DeMartini and drummer Jay Erbe stretch out the form somewhat. Both arrive as EP-style releases, but On through Portals tops half-an-hour and executes a darkened psychedelic flow over its three extended tracks — “Journey to Abydos/Moon Maid” (12:15), “Invoke” (7:38), and “Into Darkness” (11:20) — so it could just as easily pass for a short album. Either way, the partial shift in aesthetic suits Disenchanter well, and what seems to have been in-process on their first demo comes closer to fruition here. Songs are patient and lumbering, but never boring, and Stangenberg‘s vocals layer effectively at the front of the mix to give the impression of a consummate frontwoman in the making. I won’t declare their development finished, but On through Portals is a big and interesting step for Disenchanter to take. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Junior Bruce, The Nomad


Just two tracks on this latest release from Southern heavy rockers Junior Bruce. The Nomad is the second of two (to date) digital releases following Junior Bruce‘s 2012 debut full-length, The Headless King, and intended as a complement to last year’s The Burden. Fair enough. Taken as such or on their own, The Nomad‘s two cuts, “The Promised Sleep” and “Nomad,” offer unpretentious heavy rolling groove from the Floridian five-piece fronted by Scott Angelacos and featuring bassist Tom Crowther, both also of Hollow Leg and formerly Bloodlet and Hope and Suicide. Molasses riffs from guitarists Nate Jones and Bryan Raymond and steady crash from drummer Jeff McAlear further distinguish “Nomad” in the Southern tradition, and the single/EP is twice as intriguing in the context of Hollow Leg‘s most recent recording, “God Eater” (discussed here), which moved in a more rocking direction as well. It seems to work for both bands. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Anuseye, Essay on a Drunken Cloud


Cuts like “J R” and “Wrong Blues” take ’90s crunch and heavy rock vibes to heart, but where Italy’s Anuseye really distinguish themselves on their Vincebus Eruptum Recordings debut — other than with their somewhat unfortunate moniker — is in the weirdo jamminess of “Push Magic Button” or the psychedelic exploration of “Earthquake.” Essay on a Drunken Cloud boasts a few riffs and effects-laced stretches like that in “Cursed Pills” that might call to mind guitarist Luca Stero and vocalist/guitarist Claudio C.‘s and prior work together in That’s all Folks, but Anuseye has a personality of their own here, with bassist Michele V. and drummer Antonello C. keeping step with the strange vibes every step of the way. The balance shifts effectively between psych rock and noisy post-punk, but songs like “Demon Pulse” and the penultimate “S.S. Abyss” find an engaging and unexpected middle ground on which to make an impression. And then they do. For those days when you feel like you’re heard everything a riff can do, Essay on a Drunken Cloud might just convince you there’s still territory to be discovered. On Thee Facebooks, at Vincebus Eruptum.

For the complete list of this week’s adds, click here.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk is Five Years Old Today

Posted in The Numbers on January 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I don’t think when this site was launched five years ago today I had any idea of what was going to happen with it. The Obelisk started basically because I was newly out of work and didn’t know what to do with myself in the wake of that. I wanted to write. Since the start, I’ve never really known what’s next, and that has continued to be the case over the last half-decade. As milestones have come up, things like adding the forum, adding the radio stream, etc., it’s really only been after the fact that I’ve been able to sort of step back and realize that any sort of shift has taken place. This is one of those times.

You know what’s coming, and though I say it with some regularity, I never quite feel like it’s enough. The internet is built on anonymity. If I’m lucky enough that your eyes are seeing this somewhere around the world, whether it’s Jersey or New Zealand, there’s a decent chance we’ll never meet. If we do, that’s awesome — please  say hi and I’m sorry in advance for being an awkward weirdo — but I know how it is to read a site like this one and have the author be an abstract, shapeless beyond the text presented, not really a consideration. I’m not saying everyone who looks at this page needs to know who I am or anything like that, just that I hope that if you’ve ever read this site before or if this is your first time here, you know that there’s a human being on the other end who is incredibly grateful to you for doing so.

The Obelisk has become a huge part of my life and a huge part of my every day, and five years on, it’s not only an outlet for writing, but a big piece of how I think about my own identity. I never anticipated that, but I’m not sorry it’s happened. I’m proud of this site, what it has managed to accomplish in its time, and I’m thrilled to be able to continue to develop it. I’m amazed at the passionate community that’s developed on the forum, and I think for the five bucks a month I spend to host it, the radio stream is worth the cash for my enjoyment alone, never mind anyone else’s. Thank you. Thank you so much. For checking in every now and again, for reading however often you might, for posting on the forum, listening to the radio, correcting my spelling on somebody’s name or offering suggestions for bands to check out, or to check out your band. For clicking Like or retweeting. All of it. Huge thanks to The Patient Mrs. for her years of rolled-eye indulgence, and to Slevin for his near-constant help in every technical aspect of running the site, from installing WordPress to designing the forum to finding the host for the radio to helping me size the header properly. There are days where The Obelisk is the reason I roll out of bed — over the last five years, more than a few — and I know that would not be the case without the kind of support I have received on every level. Once again, thank you.

I look forward to continuing to say thanks for as long as this lasts, however long it might be, wherever it might go from here, and wherever we might be headed. I’ll probably never be able to convey just how much your support and your involvement is appreciated, but please, please know that it is.

All the best,
JJ Koczan

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Michael Wohl, Eight Pieces for Solo Guitar

Posted in Radio on December 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s a release home-recorded entirely with instrumental acoustic guitar, so yeah, it should probably go without saying that Michael Wohl‘s Eight Pieces for Solo Guitar has an intimate vibe. Nonetheless, Wohl, who also serves as guitarist/vocalist in Seattle rockers Mystery Ship – their EP II (review here) was one of my favorite short releases this year — manages to explore a range of emotional expressions within the decidedly minimal atmosphere, from the toe-tapper “No Ticket Blues” to the open-spaced folk of “Lonesome No More.”

Calling it primitive feels like underselling it, but fortunately there’s very little of the cloying-at-authenticity in what Wohl does that one often finds in neo-Americana folk. And it’s not simple by any means. Each of the titular eight pieces has a concept at work, as Wohl himself elucidates in a track-by-track accompanying the digital release even as he gives the tuning info:

Eight instrumental acoustic guitar songs recorded in my apartment between January 2012 and May 2013. Remastered July 2013.

1. Sheepmanblues: drone blues with a nod to Murakami, played in CGCGCE tuning. The SHEEPMAN is ever-present and cryptic in his instruction & aim.

2. No Ticket Blues: Played in DADF#AD. An original composition, indebted to Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Skip James. Ain’t got no Ticket, ain‘t got no ride.

3. Moonfeeder: nocturne played in DADFAD

4. Poor Boy Long Ways From Home: adapted from an arrangement from John Fahey who I think adapted primarily from Barbecue Bob and Booker White. This is one of the oldest songs. No one wrote it but it floats in the firmament of American music. Rev. Robert Wilkins secular song “That’s No Way to Get Along” became “Prodigal Son” when he took up the cloth and this song bears much similarity. Adapted by the Stones on the Beggar’s Banquet album.

5. Melatonin Blues / Fever Dream: I stayed up for way too long and improvised this arrangement of a couple ideas and figures I had been playing for a while.

6. Rainin’ Sideways: came up with on the couch while visiting my home, played in Open C. Recorded in Seattle on one of the ugliest days in history.

7. Long After We Are Dead: one of the first instrumental songs I wrote. It came together after visiting Antietam, Gettysburg, and other Civil War sites.

8. Lonesome No More: In E Standard tuning, capo’d 2nd fret. A foray into spatial composition…echo & distance.

Naturally, having a direct discussion from Wohl on the intent and meaning behind the songs gives the 27-minute album a different context, but even without it, it’s easy to get a sense of where the divide in “Melatonin Blues/Fever Dream” lies, the former staying somewhat in line with the rootsy style of “Sheepmanblues” and the latter wandering into more intricate changes, still keeping a down-home twang, but come into a folkier place.

The overall spirit of the songs is humble — a far cry from some of the swagger Wohl shows in Mystery Ship — and deeply personal, and in some cases, immediately and unconsciously familiar. The take on “Poor Boy Long Way from Home” gives a bare-bones look at where Masters of Reality picked up some of the melody for “John Brown,” and “Rainin’ Sideways” takes even more appeal from the fact that it seems like it’s about to come apart at any given moment.

Wohl has a tape version of Eight Pieces for Solo Guitar out and a 7″ coming that’s also set to feature “Moonfeeder,” but because it’s something that might catch people off guard in listening, I thought it would be perfect as well for The Obelisk Radio. You can hear it there now as part of the regular streaming rotation and check it out on the Bandcamp player below. Enjoy:

Michael Wohl, Eight Pieces for Solo Guitar (2013)

Michael Wohl on Thee Facebooks

Michael Wohl on Bandcamp

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