Posted in The Numbers on January 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
The last weekend in January has become a very special occasion for me. It was the same weekend eight years ago in 2009 that The Obelisk first came together and went live. The first post was on a Saturday. I was in the process of losing my job and kind of in a panic about what to do next, needing an outlet for reviews. On a professional level, print was all I’d ever known.
This would be something completely different. By the time the first review went up a couple days later, I began to see the appeal of the open forum I had and the ability to make my own direction.
I’ve said numerous times over the years that I’m surprised at how much The Obelisk has come to take over my life and my waking consideration. I think about this site a lot. People say nice things about it to me and part of the reason I can never take the compliment is because I know that there’s no way anyone feels as strongly about it as I do. Over the last eight years, it’s become an extension of who I am as well as my lone creative outlet. If it’s just news and reviews to you, that’s cool, and if you’ve found good bands through it, that’s awesome too, but to me it’s become about something much more than that.
I look back on things I wrote years ago now and remember where I was that day. That time I reviewed the first Mars Red Sky record to get my head right after a hurricane tore through my area. Writing with my face down on a dining table on a Stena ferry ship in 2010 as I tried to make my way to Roadburn after the now-infamous Icelandic volcano eruption disrupted travel worldwide. This site is an essential part of those life experiences for me.
All the shows. My move from New Jersey to Massachusetts. Changing careers. I feel lucky to have been able to share these things around an ongoing discussion of music. Thank you so much for being a part of it. I don’t know where I’d be otherwise.
By nature, I’m a compulsive person, and that feeds a lot of what I do here. I want to review something every day in one way or another. I want to keep up with news of fests, album releases, tours, etc. I want to keep a respectful tone to my writing because I believe strongly that there is aesthetic value in critique as much as any other creative work.
Thank you foremost to Patrick Slevin, without whom The Obelisk would not exist. Slevin registered the domain, installed WordPress, and for the last eight years has been able and willing to take on — mostly uncomplaining, no less; or at very least complaining in a charming way — every technical glitch and weird customization request I’ve asked of him. We’ll get a mobile version going one of these days, I promise, but the dude is the reason you’re able to read this right now, an amazing, generous friend, and someone I’m deeply fortunate to have in my life.
Thank you to my wife, The Patient Mrs., for her understanding and support. I write for The Obelisk every single day. It takes hours out of my life — every single day — and hours out of our life as well and thus hours out of hers. Every single day. Even weekends at this point. There are times where she rolls her eyes and plenty of them when she’s absolutely correct to do so, but her unwavering love is the defining aspect of my life. It is what keeps me upright, and the foundation on which who I’ve become for the last two decades has been built. I cannot tell you how much I love her because it is a value that continues to increase exponentially with each passing day, week, year.
There are so many others. My mother, who likes all my Facebook posts, and my sister whose camera I’m still using since mine broke. Walter Roadburn. The list goes on and I don’t want to be Johnny Namedrop, but the support I’ve gotten for The Obelisk is worldwide and it is immensely humbling to even think about.
Again, thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting, liking posts, sharing, retweeting, posting screenshots on Instagram, sending me your band’s debut EP, whatever it is. Thank you. I’ve said all along that nothing lasts forever, but I’m going to keep doing this site for as long as I can, and I hope as it continues to evolve and change over time you’ll still be a part of it with me.
Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Looks like it’s going to be another busy 12 months ahead. It’s been a busy better-part-of-a-month already, so that stands to reason, but you should know that of the several years now that I’ve done these ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ posts, this is the biggest one yet, with over 150 upcoming releases that — one hopes — will be out between today and the end of 2017.
Actually, at last count, the list tops 180. Do I really expect you to listen to all of them? Nope. Will I? Well, it would be nice. But what I’ve done is gone through and highlighted 35 picks and then built lists off that in order of likelihood of arrival. You’ll note the categories are ‘Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates,’ ‘Definitely Could Happen’ and ‘Would be Awfully Nice.’
Beyond that last one, anything else just seems like speculation — one might as well go “new Sabbath this year!” with zero info backing it up. The idea here is that no matter where a given band is placed, there has been some talk of a new release. In some cases, it’s been years, but I think they’re still worth keeping in mind.
Another caveat: You can expect additions to this list over the next week — probably album titles, band names people (fingers crossed) suggest in the comments, and so on — so it will grow. It always does. The idea is to build as complete a document as possible, not to get it all nailed down immediately, so please, if you have something to contribute and you’re able to do so in a non-prickish, “You didn’t include Band X and therefore don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me,” kind of way, please contribute.
Other than that, I think it’s pretty straightforward what’s going on here and I’ll explain the category parameters as we go, so by all means, let’s jump in.
— Tomorrow’s Dream 2017 —
1. Abrahma, TBA
Late last year, Paris heavy progressives Abrahma announced a new lineup and third full-length in progress. No reason to think it won’t come to fruition, and a follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) is an easy pick to look forward to. Even with the shift in personnel, it seems likely the band will continue their creative development, driven as they are by founding guitarist Seb Bismuth.
2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War
If 2017 ended today, Sleeping Through the War would be my Album of the Year. Of course, there’s a lot of year to go, but for now, Nashville’s All Them Witches have set the standard with their second album for New West Records behind 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here) and fourth overall outing. They’ve got videos up so far for “3-5-7” (posted here) and “Bruce Lee” (posted here). Both are most definitely worth your time. Out Feb. 24. Full review should be later this week.
3. Alunah, Solennial
Seems like UK forest riffers Alunah are on this list every year. Wishful thinking on my part. Nonetheless, their fourth LP and Svart Records debut, Solennial, is out March 17, and if the tease they gave already with the clip for “Fire of Thornborough Henge” (posted here) is anything to go from, its Chris Fielding-produced expanses might just be Alunah‘s most immersive yet.
4. Arbouretum, TBA
I asked the Baltimore folk fuzzers a while back on Thee Facebooks if they had a new record coming in 2017 and they said yes, so that’s what I’m going on here. The last Arbouretum album was 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here), and even with frontman Dave Heumann‘s 2015 solo outing, Here in the Deep (review here), factored in, you’d have to say they’re due. Keep an eye on Thrill Jockey for word and I’ll do the same.
5. Atavismo, Inerte
This is another one that already has a spot reserved for it on my Best-of-2017 year-end list. Spanish heavy psych rockers Atavismo up the progressive bliss level with their second full-length, Inerte, without losing the depth of style that made 2014’s Desintegración (review here) so utterly glorious. It probably won’t have the biggest marketing budget of 2017, but if you let Atavismo fly under your radar, you are 100 percent missing out on something special.
6. Bison Machine, TBA
In addition to the video for new track “Cloak and Bones” that premiered here, when Michigan raucousness-purveyors Bison Machine put out the dates for their fall 2016 tour, they included further hints of new material in progress. As much as I dug their earlier-2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), that’s more than enough for me to include them on this list. Killer next-gen heavy rock.
7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TBA
News of a follow-up to Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2015 Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here) came through in October, and it remains some of the best news I’ve heard about 2017 doings. Took them a while to get the first record out, so we’ll see what happens, but it kind of feels like looking forward to a comet about to smash into the planet and cause a mass extinction, and by that I mean awesome. Can’t get here soon enough.
8. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kosmic Dust
Okay, so maybe I jumped the gun and did a super-early review of Denver trio Cloud Catcher‘s second long-player and Totem Cat Records debut, Trails of Kosmic Dust, but hell, no regrets. Some albums require an early-warning system. Their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), was a gem as well, but this is a band in the process of upping their game on every level, and the songwriting and momentum they hone isn’t to be missed.
9. Colour Haze, TBA
I’ve gotten some details on the upcoming full-length from Colour Haze. They do not include a title, artwork, audio, song titles or general direction. Less details, I guess, than word that the CD version of this answer to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) is set to come out next month, as ever, on Elektrohasch. That puts it out in time for Colour Haze‘s upcoming tour with My Sleeping Karma (announced here). Fingers crossed it happens. Colour Haze are perpetual top-albums candidates in my book.
10. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA
Signed to Nuclear Blast after being rejoined by guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, North Carolina’s C.O.C. have been in the studio since last year. The lineup of Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin on drums is the stuff of legend and last worked together on 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, so no question this reunion makes for one of 2017’s most anticipated heavy rock records. They nailed the nostalgia factor on tour. Can they now add to their legacy?
11. Elder, TBA
I was incredibly fortunate about a month ago to visit progressive heavy rockers Elder at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, during the recording process for their upcoming fourth album. I heard a couple of the tracks, and of course it was all raw form, but the movement forward from 2015’s Lore (review here) was palpable. That LP (on Stickman) brought them to a wider audience, and I expect no less from this one as well, since the farther out Elder go sound-wise, the deeper the level of connection with their listeners they seem to engage.
12. Electric Wizard, TBA
Could happen, could not happen. That’s how it goes. Announced for last Halloween. That date came and went. Word of trouble building their own studio surfaced somewhere along the line. That was the last I heard. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up tomorrow, if it showed up in 2018, or if the band broke up and never put it out. They’re Electric Wizard. Anything’s possible.
13. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues
Out Jan. 28 on Napalm, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) is the first-ever acoustic album from former Kyuss frontman John Garcia, also of Unida, the reunited Slo Burn, Hermano, Vista Chino, Zun, etc. — basically the voice of desert rock. He does a couple Kyuss classics for good measure, but shines as well on the new/original tracks, and while it’s a piece for fans more than newcomers — that is, it helps if you know the original version of “Green Machine” — his presence remains as powerful as ever despite this new context.
14. Goya, Harvester of Bongloads
Riffs, dude. Goya seem to have them to spare. The Arizona-based wizard doomers have set a pretty prolific clip for themselves at this point, with at least two short releases out in 2016, one a 7″ of Nirvana covers (review here), and the The Enemy EP (review here). Set for a March 3 release through their own Opoponax Records imprint, Harvester of Bongloads continues the march into the abyss that 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 set in motion, finding the band coming more into their own as well. Creative growth — and bongloads! The best of both worlds.
15. Ides of Gemini, TBA
Ides of Gemini are set to record their yet-untitled third album with Sanford Parker early this year, and it will also mark their debut on Rise Above Records upon its release. They’ve also got a new lineup around vocalist Sera Timms and guitarist J. Bennett, so as they look to move forward from 2014’s Old World New Wave (review here), one can’t help but wonder what to expect, but to be honest, not knowing is part of the appeal, especially from a band who so readily specialize in the ethereal.
16. Kind, TBA
Three-fourths of Kind feature elsewhere on this list. Bassist Tom Corino plays in Rozamov. Drummer Matt Couto is in Elder. Vocalist Craig Riggs is in Roadsaw. And for what it’s worth, guitarist Darryl Shepherd has a new band coming together called Test Meat. How likely does that make Kind to release a second LP in 2017? I don’t know, but their 2015 Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science (review here), deserves a follow-up, and I know they’ve demoed some new songs. If it happens, great. If it’s 2018, at least these dudes will be plenty busy besides.
17. Lo-Pan, In Tensions
Yes, Lo-Pan‘s In Tensions (review here) has already been released — CD/LP with an artbook on Aqualamb. It’s out. Limited numbers. You can get it now. Why include it on a list of most anticipated releases? Because that’s how strongly I feel about your need to hear it. The fruit of a shortlived lineup with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, it distinguishes itself from everything they’ve done before in style while still keeping to the core righteousness that one hopes the Ohio outfit will continue to carry forward. It’s more than a stopgap between albums. Listen to it.
18. The Midnight Ghost Train, TBA
It seems to have been a rough ride for hard-boogie specialists The Midnight Ghost Train since their 2015 Napalm debut and third album overall, Cold was the Ground (review here). They’ve never taken it easy on the road or in terms of physicality on stage, and between injuries and who knows what else, their intensity at this point veers toward the directly confrontational. Nonetheless, they’ve been writing for album number four, may or may not have started the recording process, and I expect that confrontationalism to suit them well in their new material.
19. Monster Magnet, TBA
I have it on decent authority that NJ heavy psych innovators Monster Magnet were in the studio this past autumn. I’ve seen no concrete word of a new album in progress from Dave Wyndorf and company, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to until it was time to start hyping the release, but after their two redux releases, 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here) and 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), their range feels broader than ever and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.
20. Mothership, High Strangeness
A pivotal moment for Mothership arrives with High Strangeness, and the heavy-touring, heavy-riffing Texas power trio seem to know it. Their third record on Ripple Music pushes into new avenues of expression and keeps the energy of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but thus far into their career, it’s been about their potential and what they might accomplish going forward. 2017 might be the year for Mothership to declare a definitive place in the sphere of American heavy rock.
21. The Obsessed, Sacred
On Halloween 2016, founding The Obsessed guitarist/vocalist and doom icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich announced a new lineup for the band, with his former The Hidden Hand bandmate Bruce Falkinburg on bass/vocals, Sara Seraphim on guitar and Brian Costantino continuing on drums. A genuine surprise. Their first album since 1994, Sacred (due on Relapse) was tracked as the trio of Weinrich, Costantino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, but clearly they’ve moved into a new era already. Wouldn’t even guess what the future holds, but hopefully Sacred still comes out.
22. Orange Goblin, TBA
When it was announced that London’s Orange Goblin were picked up by Spinefarm as part of that label’s acquisition of Candlelight Records last Spring, the subheadline from the PR wire was “Working on Ninth Studio Album.” I haven’t heard much since then, but even as 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) pushed them deeper into metallic territory than ever before, their songs retained the character that’s made the band the institution they are. Always look forward to new Orange Goblin.
23. Pallbearer, Heartless
Doomers, this is your whole year right here. I haven’t heard Pallbearer‘s third album, Heartless (out March 24 on Profound Lore), but I have to think even those who haven’t yet been won over by the Arkansas four-piece’s emotive, deep-running style have to be curious about what they’ve come up with this time around. I know I am. These guys have been making a mark on the genre since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and there’s little doubt Heartless will continue that thread upon its arrival.
24. Radio Moscow, TBA
Fact: Radio Moscow stand among the best classic heavy rock live acts in the US. They’re the kind of band you can watch upwards of 15 gigs in a row — I’ve done it — and find them putting on a better show night after night, in defiance of science, logic and sobriety. Word of their signing to Century Media came just this past week and brought with it confirmation of a follow-up to 2014’s stellar Magical Dirt (review here), and for me to say hell yes, I’m absolutely on board, seems like the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Can’t wait.
25. Roadsaw, TBA
Nearly six full years later, it’s only fair to call Boston scene godfathers Roadsaw due for a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here). Granted, members have been busy in Kind, White Dynomite, and other projects, but still. Their upcoming outing finds them on Ripple Music after years under the banner of Small Stone Records, and though I haven’t seen a solid release date yet, my understanding is they hit Mad Oak Studio in Allston, MA, this past fall to track it, so seems likely for sooner or later. Sooner, preferably.
26. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
Speaking of albums by Boston bands a while in the making, This Mortal Road (out March 3 on Battleground Records and Dullest Records) is the debut full-length from Boston atmospheric extremists Rozamov. Haven’t heard it yet, but I got a taste of some of the material when I visited the band at New Alliance Audio in Aug. 2015, and the bleak expanses of what I heard seem primed to turn heads. I’m a fan of these guys, but in addition, they’ve found a niche for themselves sound-wise and I’m curious to hear how they bring it to fruition.
27. Samsara Blues Experiment, TBA
It’s been a pleasure over the last couple months to watch a resurgence of Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment take shape, first with the announcement of a fourth album in October, then with subsequent confirmations for Desertfest, Riff Ritual in Barcelona, and a South American tour. Reportedly due in Spring, which fits with the timing on shows, etc., the record will follow 2013’s righteous Waiting for the Flood (review here) and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing it, I’m kind of just glad to have these guys back.
28. Seedy Jeezus, TBA
Work finished earlier this month on Melbourne trio Seedy Jeezus‘ second full-length. As with their 2015 self-titled debut, the band brought Tony Reed of Mos Generator to Australia to produce, and after their blissed-out 2016 collaboration with Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, Tranquonauts (review here), it’s hard not to wonder what experimentalist tendencies might show in the trio’s style this time out, and likewise difficult not to anticipate what guitarist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Wattereus comes up with for the cover art.
29. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun
Not to spoil the surprise, but Feb. 1 I’ll host a track premiere from Florida’s Shroud Eater that finds them working in a different context from everything we’ve heard from them to this point in their rightly-celebrated tenure. They also recently had a split out with Dead Hand, and their second long-player, Strike the Sun, will be their debut through STB Records. It’s been since 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here) that we last got a Shroud Eater album, so you bet your ass I’m dying to know what the last six years have wrought.
30. Sleep, TBA
If Sleep were any other band, they’d probably be in the “Would be Awfully Nice” category. But they’re Sleep, so even the thought of a new record is enough to put them here. The lords of all things coated in THC are reissuing their 2014 single, The Clarity (review here), on Southern Lord next month, but rumors have been swirling about a proper album, which of course would be their first since the now-legendary Dopesmoker. If it happens, it’ll automatically be a heavy underground landmark for 2017, but it’s one I’m going to have in my ears before I really believe it.
31. Stoned Jesus, TBA
Even as they tour playing their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), to mark its fifth anniversary and continued impact, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus are forging ahead with a fourth record behind 2015’s The Harvest (review here). The capital-‘q’ Question is whether or not looking back at Seven Thunders Roar and engaging that big-riffing side of their sound will have an impact on the new material, and if so, how it will meld with the push of The Harvest. Won’t speculate, but look forward to finding out.
32. Stubb, TBA
Since reveling in the soul of 2015’s Cry of the Ocean (review here) on Ripple, London trio Stubb have swapped out bassists, and they were in Skyhammer Studio this month recording a single that may be an extended psychedelic jam. I’ll take that happily, but I’m even more intrigued at the prospect of a third LP and what guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist/vocalist Tom Hobson and drummer Tom Fyfe might have in store as the band moves forward on multiple levels. Might be 2017, might not.
33. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us
It Runs around the Room with Us seems to find peace in its resonant experimentalist drones, loops, open, subdued spaces, but there’s always some underlying sense of foreboding to its drift, as if Boise’s Sun Blood Stories could anticipate the moment before it happened. Toward the end of the follow-up to 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), they execute the 90-second assault “Burn” and turn serenity to ash. Look for it in April and look for it again on my best of 2017 list in December.
34. Ufomammut, TBA
Any new offering from the Italian cosmic doom magnates is worth looking forward to, and while Ufomammut have left the 15-year mark behind, they’ve never stopped progressing in style and form. To wit, 2015’s Ecate (review here) was a stunner after 2012’s two-part LP, Oro (review here and review here), tightening the approach but assuring the vibe was no less expansive than ever. They started recording last summer, finished mixing in November, so I’m hoping for word of a release date soon.
35. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn
Born out of Creedsmen Arise, whose 2015 demo, Temple (review here), offered formative thrills, Swedish trio Vokonis debuted with last year’s Olde One Ascending (review here) and proved there’s still life in post-Sleep riffing when it’s wielded properly. They signed to Ripple in November and confirmed the title of their sophomore effort as The Sunken Djinn, as well as a reissue for the first album, which will probably arrive first. I don’t know how that will affect the timing on this one, but keep an eye out anyway.
Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates
Obviously some of these are more likely than others. Some have solidified, announced release dates — Dopelord‘s out this month, Demon Head‘s out in April, etc. — and others come from social media posts of bands in studios and hints at upcoming releases and so on. A big tell is whether or not a band has an album title with their listing, but even some of those without have their new albums done, like Atala and Royal Thunder, so it’s not necessarily absolute.
Either way, while I’m spending your money, you might want to look into:
36. Against the Grain
39. Attalla, Glacial Rule
40. Ayahuasca Dark Trip, II
42. Beaten Back to Pure
45. Buried Feather, Mind of the Swarm
46. The Clamps
47. Cold Stares
48. Coltsblood, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness
49. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
51. Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity
52. The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms
53. Dead Witches, Dead Witches
55. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
56. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
57. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
58. Devil Electric
59. Doctor Cyclops, Local Dogs
60. Dool, Here Now There Then
61. Dopelord, Children of the Haze
62. Doublestone, Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn
63. Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls
64. Drive by Wire
65. Elbrus, Elbrus
66. Electric Age
67. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
68. Endless Floods, II
69. Five Horse Johnson
70. Forming the Void, Relic
71. Funeral Horse
73. Green Desert Water
75. Grifter / Suns of Thunder, Split
76. Hair of the Dog, This World Turns
77. Heavy Temple, Chassit
78. Here Lies Man, Here Lies Man
79. Hollow Leg, Murder EP
80. Holy Mount, The Drought
81. Hooded Menace
82. Horisont, About Time
83. Hymn, Perish
84. Lecherous Gaze
85. Magnet, Feel Your Fire
87. Merlin, The Wizard
89. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
90. Mirror Queen
91. Moonbow, War Bear
92. Mos Generator
93. The Moth
95. Mouth, Vortex
96. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
99. PH, Eternal Hayden
100. Psychedelic Witchcraft, Magick Rites and Spells
101. Royal Thunder
102. Saturn, Beyond Spectra
103. Season of Arrows, Give it to the Mountain
104. Siena Root
105. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
106. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
108. The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night
110. Spidergawd, IV
112. Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld
113. Sula Bassana, Organ Accumulator
115. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager
116. Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell EP
117. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
119. Troubled Horse, Revelation on Repeat
120. VA, Brown Acid The Third Trip
122. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle
Definitely Could Happen
Maybe a recording process is upcoming (Gozu, Cities of Mars, YOB), or a band is looking for a label (The Flying Eyes), or they’ve said new stuff is in the works but the circumstances of an actual release aren’t known (Arc of Ascent, Dead Meadow, High on Fire), or I’ve just seen rumors of their hitting the studio (Freedom Hawk, La Chinga, Ruby the Hatchet). We’ve entered the realm of the entirely possible but not 100 percent.
So, you know, life.
123. The Age of Truth
124. Ape Machine
125. Arc of Ascent
126. At Devil Dirt
131. La Chinga
132. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
133. Cities of Mars
134. Crypt Sermon
135. Dead Meadow
136. Death Alley (Studio LP)
137. Dee Calhoun
138. Destroyer of Light
140. Devil Worshipper
144. Electric Moon
145. Elephant Tree
147. The Flying Eyes
148. Freedom Hawk
150. The Great Electric Quest
151. Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
152. High on Fire
154. Insect Ark
155. In the Company of Serpents
156. Iron Monkey
157. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus
158. The Judge
159. Killer Boogie
160. King Dead
161. The Kings of Frog Island
162. Lords of Beacon House, Recreational Sorcery
164. Mondo Drag
166. Mountain God
167. The Munsens
169. Never Got Caught
175. Purple Hill Witch
176. Ruby the Hatchet
178. Satan’s Satyrs
179. Serpents of Secrecy
181. Shooting Guns
182. Sleepy Sun
183. Slow Season
184. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
185. Spectral Haze
186. The Sweet Heat
187. Switchblade Jesus
191. Zone Six
Would be Awfully Nice
This last category is basically as close as I’m willing to come to rampant speculation. Endless Boogie have hinted at new material, and Queens of the Stone Age have talked about hitting the studio for the last two years. There were rumors about Om, and though Kings Destroy just put out an EP, they have new songs as well, though I doubt we’ll hear them before the end of 2017. I’ll admit that Across Tundras, Fever Dog, Lord Fowl, Lowrider and Hour of 13 are just wishful thinking on my part. A boy can hope:
192. Across Tundras
194. Elephant Tree
195. Endless Boogie
196. Fever Dog
197. Fu Manchu
198. Halfway to Gone
199. Hour of 13
201. Kings Destroy
202. Lord Fowl
204. Masters of Reality
207. Queens of the Stone Age
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Whatever this year brings, I hope it’s been great so far for you and I hope it continues to be so as we proceed inexorably to 2018 and all the also-futuristic-sounding numbers thereafter. At least we know we’ll have plenty of good music to keep us company on that voyage.
As always, comments section is open if there’s anything I’ve left out. I’m happy to add, adjust, etc., as need be, so really, have at it, and thanks in advance.
I’m proud to announce The Obelisk is now sponsored by the All That is Heavy webstore.
This has been a while in the making. Over the years I’ve had various people ask me about buying ads on the site and things like that. Coming from print media, it’s never been something I’ve wanted to do — in fact, part of the appeal of running a site like this is that I’ve never been beholden to outside companies or advertisers in the same way I was during my time in print.
I’ve known Dan Beland from All That is Heavy for nearly a decade, back to his days running StonerRock.com, as well as MeteorCity and of course All That is Heavy itself. He’s someone I’ve felt strongly about supporting in the past — there are numerous Buried Treasure posts dedicated to purchases made from his store — and I still find new bands from All That is Heavy, just as I’ve always done. He’s someone with a deep knowledge of the community he serves. Plus, in not dealing directly with a record label, it’s not like Dan is going to reach out to me and say, “Hey, I’ve got 50 new releases in the store this week and you need to review them all or I’m pulling my ad.” That’s just not the way this is going to work.
We run in the same sphere enough that of course there will be overlap between what I cover and what he carries — the partnership wouldn’t make any sense otherwise — but the editorial integrity of this site is paramount to me and I have it in writing from Dan that there will be no pressure toward anything in particular from that end. Truth is he doesn’t really have time for it and neither do I. We’re both one-man operations trying to make our day as productive as possible. To wit, he doesn’t know I’m putting this post up and I doubt very much he’d care either way if he did. In all likelihood, this will be the last time I post about it, but I thought you should know what was up.
You may have noticed the link at the top of the page that looks like this:
Click through on that and you’ll get a code allowing you 15 percent off anything you order from All That is Heavy.
We’re on a six-month trial and either of us can back out at either time, so maybe this’ll last and maybe it won’t. I’ve always tried to do new things with The Obelisk. This is another extension of that, and like all the rest, we’ll see how it goes.
Thank you for your continued support and all the best,
Posted in Features on December 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Welcome to The Obelisk’s Top 20 of 2016 Year-End Poll!
Maximum participation is welcomed and encouraged. By now you know the rules, or if you don’t I’m sure you can guess. Everyone contributes a list of their favorite releases of 2016. I don’t care if it’s an album, EP, single, whatever. Anything that struck your fancy is cool.
All of those picks are rounded up from the form below — it asks for your email just to prove you’re a human being, so please don’t think I’m keeping tabs or selling info or anything like that; I wouldn’t know how even if I wanted to — and will be tabulated at the end of the month. For the last few years, we’ve used a point system wherein a 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one. Raw votes are of course also counted, and the results from both counts will be posted on New Year’s Day, along with all the lists contributed.
I had a pretty good idea last year what the number one was going to be. What’s 2016’s pick? Not a clue. I’ve got my own list in progress and will be adding it to the poll as well, but I’m dying to see what everyone chooses and what wins out. More than ever it seems there could be multiple options, so if there’s something you feel strongly about, make sure it’s high on your list to get those extra points.
You have my sincere appreciation for contributing your list, and any sharing of the link or commenting or anything else is welcome.
This is meant to be a conversation and a good time, so let’s have at it:
THE POLL IS CLOSED. THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED!
Thanks as always to Slevin for his invaluable assistance in putting this poll together, and to you for reading and taking part in this ongoing experiment. Let’s make this the biggest poll yet.
That is a span of eight months and 18 days, 37 weeks and three days, or 262 days total. Of those, if we take out an average of two days not-posting per week to account for weekends, that leaves 188 days on which posts went up between then and now. I’ve never been much for math, but 1,000 posts divided by 188 days is 5.3 posts per day, and that sounds about right. Easily the fastest pace I’ve ever gone with this site.
And in that span, I can only really begin to tell you the strange turns my existence has taken. I’ve dropped over 140 pounds. I’ve had surgery. I’ve released a book. I’ve changed jobs. I’m getting ready to potentially move again. I’ve hosted The Obelisk All-Dayer, been to fests in Arizona and the Netherlands, Maryland and Norway, and heard from and met more awesome people than I could ever hope to properly thank along the way. That’s this year. Not even done yet with it. To say the least, it’s been a time.
A question I get asked a lot when talking to people who know the site is where I find the hours to do it. I usually mumble out something about how it doesn’t take that long, but the truth of the matter is The Obelisk occupies a significant place in my life. Significant. It has become my only outlet for writing — acknowledging that makes me want to run a full-site backup immediately — and while I don’t at all regret the way it’s consumed my being, that doesn’t change the fact that those are hours I’m not spending with family, at shows, working, or doing the other stuff regular people who don’t do this manage to do.
When it comes to The Obelisk, I have no regrets. I’ve said all along this site is a work in progress and it will continue to be until it’s done. I’ve been so lucky to be able to connect with an international community of passionate, thoughtful people, and while others get hit with racist bullshit on the internet by the minute, the most I have to deal with is obnoxious show posters and album covers with cartoon boobs on them popping up in my Facebook feed. All things considered, that’s getting off pretty light. I’m extraordinarily fortunate, and hugely grateful.
I wasn’t sure I really believed it even after I opened the box that contained the physical copies of my first collection of short stories and poems, Electroprofen, and with an April 22 release date set through War Crime Recordings (or should that be War Crime Publishing?), I’m not sure I believe it now. But it’s true nonetheless. It’s a thing that’s happening and which has happened. I have a book. Took me long enough.
The pressing is limited — 300 copies only — and it brings together stories and poetry from the past several years, written on the side while I was working on this site. Some of it is loosely related to music, but mostly it’s just fiction, stories I made up about monsters or aliens or whatever. I hope if you read it you find it suitably weird and don’t worry about what’s real and what isn’t. That’s missing the point.
This project wouldn’t have happened without the good people at War Crime. Thanks to Steve Joh, Steve Murphy, Sanford Parker and Bruce Lamont, as well as to Adam Burke, whose back-to-front gatefold cover still blows me away. Thanks as well to my wife, to whom the collection is dedicated along with my grandmother, and to Kevin Catalano, who graciously gave the final read before it was all sent off to press.
Preorders are now available through War Crime, I’ve been instructed to sign all the copies, and if you get one in and take the time to read (not much time; it’s a short collection at 70 pages), I hope you enjoy. I get asked frequently by people how they can support the site. Placing an order for a book would be a way to genuinely and directly do that, and hugely appreciated. If you’re anywhere that Kings Destroy’s current tour with Bongzilla, Lo-Pan and Black Cobra is headed, they’ll have copies available at their merch table as well.
As always, thank you for reading and for your support.
Posted in The Numbers on January 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Seven years. Seven years! That’s longer than any job I’ve ever had. When it came around on the calendar, I almost didn’t believe it, like there was no way 2009 could’ve been so long ago.
This one has been on my mind a while, I won’t lie. Seven years is not a short amount of time, and I’ve had to kind of sit with it, chew on it, think about what The Obelisk has come to mean to me and what I’ve gotten and continue to get out of doing this. Seven years ago, when I put up the first post, I had no idea what this thing would become, or how long it would go. I still don’t.
But a couple years ago, it really started to sink in to me that this is probably as far as I go in terms of any kind of meaningful contribution. For better or worse. I’m 34 years old. If I was going to wind up working for some big-time rock mag (or hell, a big-time rock site), it would’ve happened. If I was going to be in a band that made a lasting impact through touring or album releases, it would’ve happened. I’ll never own that bar I’ve spent so much time and effort daydreaming about. Not that I necessarily want to do anything else — except own that bar, which I definitely want to do — but what I’ve got is this site. It’s not perfect — it’s needed a redesign for at least the last two years, the radio breaks, and I’ve still got HeavyPink singles to get rid of — and I think for a lot of people who come here it’s just an obnoxiously wordy place to find the name of a band and then click off to their Facebook or Bandcamp page or whatever, but it’s all I have. I’m proud of what I’ve done here, it’s just bittersweet to see these things in the light of seven actual years of my life. If The Obelisk has been of some use to you, I’m exceedingly grateful. I’m going to keep it going for as long as I can.
I have a few ideas I want to kick around and a few things I want to say to mark this occasion. If you have any feedback on any of it, I’d love to hear it in the comments:
The Obelisk All-Dayer
I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to confirm Mars Red Sky as the first band for the first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer, to be held Aug. 20, 2016, at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. I’ll probably announce another band in the next two or three weeks, but really, I want to stress that this isn’t a fest the way they normally go. I want it to be a party where everyone’s invited, everyone enjoys themselves, nobody gets harassed, nobody gets on anybody’s shit, everything’s chill. No drama, or at least as little drama as humanly possible. I want it to be a good time. If it’s a good time, I’ll be happy with it. If you haven’t bought one and/or want to support this site in any way, tickets are available here. The Facebook event page is here.
The Obelisk Presents
Next month I travel to Arizona for the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta. Way stoked on that. I’m helping present Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 at SXSW. You may have noticed The Obelisk logos on posters for Maryland Doom Fest. I’ll be there as well hopefully come June, and of course April is Roadburn and not that I’m presenting it, but I have that warm going-home feeling knowing I’ll be back there. You might recall last month I presented a Kind show at the Vitus Bar. I’d like to start doing more of that kind of thing — and not just in New York. I mean around the world. I’ve hesitated in the past to associate The Obelisk with individual gigs, but if you’ve got a show and I think it’s cool, I’m all about it. I’d like to install a widget in the sidebar for upcoming gigs presented by the site, and I’d love to have that be as worldwide as humanly possible. How awesome would it be to have The Obelisk present a gig at Truckstop Alaska in Sweden? Or The Black Heart in London? Or some West Coast basement? I might not be able to be there, but I could post about the show in advance and at least give it a plug that way. Seems like it could be a really cool thing, and a kind of writing I haven’t done much of to-date.
Speaking of writing, I’m happy to announce I have a book coming out. It’s called Electroprofen and the cover is by Adam Burke. Here it is, with the back on the left and the front on the right:
It’s being pressed up through War Crime Recordings (with much thanks to Steve Murphy) and is a collection of short stories. Not music-related writing, fiction, but hopefully an otherworldly enough vibe one way or another that you get what I’m going for. The layout is being done now, hopefully it will be ready to go in Spring. So probably Summer. I’ll keep you posted either way. Preorders soon.
And speaking of preorders, thank you once again to everyone who put one in for a t-shirt or a hoodie from that sale in December. The last of the orders went out this past weekend and I’ve so far only heard from one person who probably should have his stuff who doesn’t, so yeah, that seems like a decent turnout. Merch wasn’t something I particularly wanted to do — frankly, if it’s not going to make me enough money to live on (and it’s not), I don’t see the point — but it turned out fine and I’ll probably do it again in another year or two. Not before. I’ve been hit up a couple times by people who missed the sale. Sorry. It wasn’t intended to be a permanent thing.
I’ve been pretty happy over the last year with how the scope of how a review happens around here has broadened. Between the four Quarterly Reviews, track premieres, album streams and so on, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of not doing the same thing the same way all the time. I’d like to have more time for interviews. I’m doing the best I can in that regard, but it’s an area I hope to pick up and expand on in 2016. Haven’t yet — actually I got blown off last Friday for one, and sorry, but my new policy is I don’t call back. If you want me, I’m not exactly inaccessible between this site and social media. Time is short, which brings us to…
Since last May, I’ve worked a full-time job in addition to doing this site. It hasn’t always been easy, particularly at the beginning and particularly for longer features — all the lists in December just about killed me — to find a balance between prioritizing the work I do for money and this site, which at this point I don’t think I could stop doing even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. But where I’ve felt the impact most is in my ability to go to shows. Not just that I have to get up in the morning to go to work, but I commute well over two hours driving every day and after that, I’ve got about zero energy left for going out, especially since any show, just about anywhere, requires another hour on the road. Most nights, I’m dragging ass up to bed, let alone rocking out at the club. I’d like to get to more shows, but please know that whether I do or I don’t, I’m doing as much as I can do with the life situation I’m currently in. I think it’s probably the same for a lot of people, and until someone wants to come along and give me $40k a year to run this site — not holding my breath — it’s the way it has to be. Thank you for your understanding.
And thank you most of all for your continued support. I know there are people who’ve just found out about The Obelisk or who have come and gone. That’s fine. Nothing lasts forever. But at this point there are people who’ve stuck around for years and it absolutely amazes me that someone would do that. I’m humbled to think about it, and I appreciate it deeply. Thank you so much. This hasn’t been an easy year on any number of levels, and there are days where it’s this site carrying me through, so please know that I mean it when I say thanks.
I think I’ll leave it there for now. There’s a lot still to do today, and I wouldn’t want to be accused of lingering too long. Thank you again for supporting this site. Here’s to seven years and the next one already underway.
Posted in The Numbers on January 13th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
I don’t want to dwell too long on it because there’s a lot to do today, but this is post is number 7,000 published on The Obelisk. Some people know, some people don’t, I doubt most care, but this site is run by one person — me; hi — and I’m responsible one way or another for all the content that’s been put here in those 7,000 posts, whether that’s news, a review, a guest column, an interview, whatever it is. To have done this long enough to hit a marker like that is, frankly, staggering.
We’re closing in on an anniversary as well, so I’ll save some of the state-of-the-site stuff for that, but I just wanted to take a second to express to anyone who sees this how incredibly grateful I am for all the support I’ve received as The Obelisk has continued to grow, change and ultimately become something much, much different (and much more time-consuming) than it was when it started those 6,999 posts ago. I try to say “thanks for reading” as much as I can, but please know that I mean it each and every time. At this point, there are people who’ve been reading this site for years and people who just found out about it a week ago, and I hope it will keep growing and keep expanding its reach, hopefully proving useful to those who check it out.
Because that’s the whole idea, right? As attached to this process, this weird ongoing thing, as I am, it’s not about me, or about writing. For the people reading it, it’s about music, and that’s how it should be. I’m gonna get back to all of that in a minute, but before I do, thank you again for your role in making this project special, to me and I hope to you as well. I wouldn’t be able to keep it going without your support.