The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Singles, EPs, Splits and Demos of 2014

Posted in Features on December 23rd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

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Please note: These are not the results of the Readers Poll. That’s still going on. Please feel free to submit your list.

I did this last year mostly as a result of not having somewhere to put Elder‘s Spires Burn/Release EP in 2012, but it went pretty well, so I thought we’d do another round for 2014. The 2013 list covered demos, singles, EPs and splits — basically everything that’s not a full-length album — and the same rules apply here. It’s a pretty basic idea, but it makes sense to me to consider short releases apart from full-lengths because very often they’re trying to accomplish different things.

For example, if an album is trying to tell a story or describe a central theme, either blatantly in its lyrics or atmospherically through the music itself, a demo might just be the work of a band trying to feel their way into their sound. It doesn’t strike me as fair to judge the two on the same standard. Likewise, if a band releases a single, should that really be judged alongside an hour-long release? Granted, some bands’ singles actually are an hour long, but that’s another category entirely. “The ‘Dopesmoker’ Awards” will be handed out at another date.

No, not really. At least not this year.

If you didn’t see the full-albums Top 30 of 2014, please feel free to check it out and think of this and the year-end podcast as companion pieces, albeit both a little more casual. Let’s get to it:

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The Top 20 Short Releases of 2014

1. Sleep, The Clarity
2. Fatso Jetson/Herba Mate, Early Shapes
3. All Them Witches, Effervescent
4. Cortez/Borracho, Split 7″
5. Naam/White Hills/Black Rainbows/The Flying Eyes, 4-Way Split
6. Heavy Temple, Heavy Temple
7. Death Alley, Over Under/Dead Man’s Bones 7”
8. Geezer, Live! Full Tilt Boogie
9. The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues, The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues
10. Demon Head, Demo 2014
11. Gold & Silver, Azurite and Malachite
12. The Proselyte, Our Vessel’s in Need
13. Hull, Legend of the Swamp Goat
14. Lamp of the Universe/Krautzone, Split
15. The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, Through the Dark Matter
16. The Heavy Co., Uno Dose
17. Wren, Wren
18. He Whose Ox is Gored, Rumors 7”
19. Lewis and the Strange Magics, Demo
20. Godhunter/Secrets of the Sky, Gh/0st:s
21. Lord, Alive in Golgotha

Some honorable mentions to the Young Hunter/Ohioan split tape (the Young Hunter portion of which was included last year, otherwise it would probably be number two on this list), Inter Arma‘s The Cavern 40-minute single-song EP/LP, Harvest Bell‘s debut EP, Goya and Wounded Giant‘s split, Fuzz Evil and Chiefs‘ split, Cruthu‘s demo, Disenchanter‘s second EP, the White Dynomite/Hey Zeus split 7″, Humo del Cairo‘s EP, The Golden Grass‘ Realisations EP, Dune‘s ProgenitorGodflesh‘s comeback EP, and Blackwitch Pudding‘s reinterpretations/covers EP, Covered in Pudding.

A couple notes: The Sleep single was a given. I don’t think anything could’ve topped it one way or another, even if I hadn’t listened to it 100 times since its release in July as part of the Adult Swim Singles Series. In any case, there was no debate about where to place it. You might notice on the other end the list goes to 21. I thought that being the element of chaos suited Lord well, and since I’m not entirely sure their Alive in Golgotha EP has been officially released, they warranted inclusion just in case.

One thing that struck me in putting this list together was the amount of splits included. You’ll notice Fatso Jetson and Herba Mate‘s Early Shapes right in behind Sleep. That one was an utter joy, as far as I’m concerned, and made me wish both of them would get on putting out full-lengths as soon as possible. Not far behind is Cortez and Borracho‘s split single, which had killer tracks from both bands, and the Naam/White Hills/Black Rainbows/The Flying Eyes split from Heavy Psych Sounds that, even with four bands involved, managed to keep a flowing atmosphere front to back, which was impressive enough in and of itself, never mind the individual contributions of those four acts, which were also top quality. The Krautzone/Lamp of the Universe split also provided a considerable psych blissout, and Godhunter‘s split/collaboration with Secrets of the Sky earned extra points for its adventurous spirit and the payoff its risk-taking brought to bear.

Like their Lightning at the Door LP, All Them Witches‘ Effervescent 25-minute jam figured heavily in my 2014 listening habits, as did Heavy Temple‘s self-titled debut EP. Dutch garage/heavy punkers Death Alley earned spins with their debut 7″, a lack of pretense in melding proto-thrash and heavy rock impulses allowing them to quickly find a niche that one hopes they continue to develop. Their debut single, along with Demon Head‘s Demo 2014 (and, indeed, that band’s follow-up single) and the Lewis and the Strange Magics demo were an allay to concerns retro-minded rock might be stagnating.

Geezer featured on the Short Releases list last year as well. I wasn’t sure what to do with their Gage 12″, since it was released in 2013 as an EP and 2014 as an LP, but either way, their Live! Full Tilt Boogie tape effortlessly recalled classic blues rock performances and demonstrated the fluid chemistry at work in the New York trio, I hope it’s not the last live release they do. Along similar bluesy lines, The Heavy Co.‘s Uno Dose found the Hoosier three-piece dipping into heavy jams more than their last full-length, and if that’s the direction they’re headed, you won’t hear me argue. Hailing from Sweden and arriving as an offshoot of Asteroid, the single-song EP from The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues had more than a touch of heavy blues to it too, and made me look forward to that project’s development from here on out.

There’s little I’m going to complain about less than hearing Ed Mundell bust out Miles Davis-inspired solos, so yeah, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic‘s Through the Dark Matter EP gets a nod. Impressive guitar work ran a current through Boston duo Gold & Silver‘s debut EP, Azurite and Malachite, but the proggy feel was what ultimately sold me on the two extended instrumentals included there, whereas with fellow Beantowners The Proselyte, it was the catchy songwriting and variety they showed in just four tracks. The He Whose Ox is Gored 7″ was likewise modern and satisfyingly weighted, though obviously shorter, and last but not at all least, the progressive sludge of Wren‘s self-titled EP seemed to fly under a lot of people’s radar but was a markedly individual take on a well established form that portended of good things to come.

As with everything, I’m sure there’s something in this mix that I forgot. If you’ve got a call you want to make on something, please let loose in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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audiObelisk Transmission 040

Posted in Podcasts on September 26th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

This one’s beamed in from a universe of all good times. I don’t want to walk around tooting my own horn like I actually did anything, but you’ll pardon me if I say that once you get on board here, you might not want to jump back off. The flow is up and down, alternately drawn out and rushing, and right up to the last song which is a bit of a return to earth, the second hour is the most spaced out it’s ever been around these parts. I’m way into it. I hope you’re way into it.

Like last time, I tried to get a mix of excellent stuff upcoming with other recent items you might’ve missed. One of these days I’m gonna do another one of these where I talk, but this is straight-up track into track the whole way through and I think it moves really well that way. Please feel free to grab a download or hit the stream and dig in and enjoy.

First Hour:
The Melvins, “Sesame Street Meat” from Hold it In (2014)
Fever Dog, “One Thousand Centuries” from Second Wind (2014)
Lo-Pan, “Eastern Seas” from Colossus (2014)
Witchrider, “Black” from Unmountable Stairs (2014)
Alunah, “Awakening the Forest” from Awakening the Forest (2014)
Craang, “Magnolia” from To the Estimated Size of the Universe (2014)
Slow Season, “Shake” from Mountains (2014)
Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds, “Guillotine” from The Shining One (2014)
The Proselyte, “Irish Goodbye” from Our Vessel’s in Need (2014)
Flood, “Lake Nyos” from Oak (2014)
Lord, “Golgotha” from Alive in Golgotha (2014)

Second Hour:
My Brother the Wind, “Garden of Delights” from Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One (2014)
Spidergawd, “Empty Rooms” from Spidergawd (2014)
The Myrrors, “Whirling Mountain Blues” from Solar Collector (2014)
Witch Mountain, “Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn)” from Mobile of Angels (2014)

Total running time: 1:54:28

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 040

 

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The Proselyte, Our Vessel’s in Need: The Water Keeps Rising

Posted in Reviews on August 13th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Art by William Crisafi.

Recorded in early 2013 as a blizzard pummeled the East Coast, The Proselyte‘s Our Vessel’s in Need EP hardly conveys any of the snowed-in claustrophobia or manic feel one might expect. Its five songs move, and have tones thick enough to fortify the walls of New Alliance Audio against the storm, but there’s little in the sound that seems to be trying to get away from itself. Maybe they finished tracking early on, or maybe that’s just a testament to the Cambridge, MA, outfit’s songwriting, which is all the more a highlight component of the new EP — released by Gypsyblood Records, an imprint helmed by Stavros Giannopoulos of Chicago’s The Atlas Moth — even than it was on The Proselyte‘s prior 2011 sophomore full-length, Sunshine (discussed here). In the interim, aside from completing several tours, The Proselyte have cut their lineup by one, leaving drummer/vocalist Alec Rodriguez (who also produced), guitarist/vocalist Nicholas Wolf (also of Phantom Glue) and bassist Brad Macomber (also “circuitry”) as a tight-knit power trio with a sound that confidently stands on either side of the border between heavy rock and metal and still focuses on blending melodic and growling vocal arrangements and keeping a sense of atmosphere. About a decade ago, Boston’s Cave In were picked up by RCA using similar elements, but while that band may or may not have had an influence on the rushing churn of Our Vessel’s in Need opener “End Regions,” The Proselyte are by and large a more bruising, heavier group, and even when they dip into upbeat, driving sounds, as on “End Regions” or the irresistibly catchy “Irish Goodbye,” and seem like they might be channeling some of Red Fang‘s crowdpleasing heaviness, they do so with the born-in intensity of the Seaboard they call home.

Our Vessel’s in Need is in and out in a brief 23 minutes, the time feeling that much shorter for the push in the songs themselves, and as with the prior full-length, Rodriguez‘s recording job is clean and professional. The sound overall, however, is bigger on these five tracks than the prior outing, and The Proselyte fill it with likewise sizable riffs and rhythmic movement. Each has a factor distinguishing it from the others, whether it’s “End Regions” with its stomping drumline and harmonized bridge, “Log Computer” with the catchiest chorus of the release — the lines, “Caveman committee/Prehistoric and sitting pretty/Unpolished stone/Built this city,” becoming a landmark hook — “Existential Risk” which seems to deconstruct as it hypnotically follows the guitar into oblivion, “Irish Goodbye,” which touches on classic Queens of the Stone Age-style thrust, or the slower, more open finale of “A Stubborn Hem,” but all manage to flow together smoothly as well, and while Our Vessel’s in Need is definitely an EP in the sense of not trying to come across as a single work but a collection of individual pieces, there’s no ignoring the tact with which The Proselyte execute their material. That’s particularly evident in the vocals, and the timing of the harsh/clean tradeoffs in “End Regions” and “Log Computer” and the times when both come together — “Log Computer” is about as close as they come to falling in the modern metal trap of the growled-verse/sung-chorus, but they avoid it successfully precisely because the arrangement is more complex — but no less true ultimately of the guitar, bass or drums. On the most general level, they sound more focused, but how that specifically manifests in the EP is with the impact each cut seems to have on its landing, even “Existential Risk,” which is the longer than all but the closer here at 4:44 and the moment at which they most depart from their structural base and build a near-abrasive wash of noise.

They are putting their HEADS TOGETHER. Get it?

Though, to be fair, that wash comes more or less after the song itself is done, and thinking in terms of the flow between one song and the next, feels as much about launching “Irish Goodbye” as closing “Existential Risk.” All the more, then, it’s a point at which The Proselyte branch out sonically but maintain their focus on the task at hand. “Irish Goodbye” has a compressed runthrough of the riff before Rodriguez kicks in on the drums and is soon joined by Wolf and Macomber for the progression that most rivals the memorability of “Log Computer,” a Songs for the Deaf vibe and dual-clean vocal interplay/layering taking hold in stark contrast to “Existential Risk” prior, which in terms of the vocals is as rough as Our Vessel’s in Need gets. Fitting that the two tracks should be next to each other and placed such that the latter slams into the feedback beginning of “A Stubborn Hem,” which rounds out the EP with its most doomed moment but shows off some of the progressive tendencies that had appeared on Sunshine in its second half, albeit only en route to the dual-vocal, slow-marching apex of the release which also serves as its leadout. At 6:36, it’s easily the longest track present — “End Regions,” “Log Computer” and “Irish Goodbye” hover at just under four minutes apiece — but its time is efficiently spent, and ultimately, the stylistic branching out it does in relation to the surrounding tracks makes Our Vessel’s in Need a much richer release. I wouldn’t speculate about how the band may have grown or come more into their own as a three-piece in the year and a half since the EP was recorded, but their progression since Sunshine is evident in every second of these songs and the force with which they’re delivered, and if Our Vessel’s in Need is a step en route to someplace even more definitive of where The Proselyte are as a band, it will be well worth seeing this potential further realized. Bring on the next blizzard.

The Proselyte, Our Vessel’s in Need teaser

The Proselyte on Thee Facebooks

The Proselyte on Bandcamp

Our Vessel’s in Need at Gypsyblood Records

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The Proselyte Sign with Gypsyblood Records; Winter Tour Starts Tonight

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Boston trio The Proselyte have been looking for a home for their Our Vessel’s in Need EP for a hot minute or two — there was word of it last April — but the good news is they’ve landed on Chicago-based Gypsyblood Records, the imprint helmed by Stavros Giannopoulos of The Atlas Moth. Not sure on the exact release date, but The Proselyte‘s 2011 outing, Sunshine (discussed here) was a good time, so it’ll be one to keep an eye on.

The three-piece are also braving the cold in order to spread the aforementioned good news. They’ll be hitting the road starting tonight in Allston and heading south and west into the very heart this “polar vortex” I keep hearing so much about but know nothing of because I never leave the house.

Wisdom off the PR wire:

THE PROSELYTE Align With Gypsyblood Records, Announce Winter Tour

The noisy, sludgy, genre-baiting miscreants behind Boston, Massachusetts’ The Proselyte have returned with their most cohesive and menacing effort yet. Ungodly screams and melodic harmonies square off as The Proselyte weave a web anger and beauty inspired in part by the sonic dichotomies of The Melvins and Torche, concocting a heady rush of stoner doom, Seattle grunge, and canny melodicism.

Now a trio, this Boston band have toured the states numerous times and are gearing up for a busy 2014 with a new EP entitled Our Vessel’s In Need. They are pleased to announce that upstart Chicago label Gypsyblood Records will handle the limited vinyl pressing & digital version while artwork will come from Billy Crisafi. The record was engineered by their own Alec Rodriguez at New Alliance Audio and mastered by Nick Zampiello and Rob Gonnella at New Alliance East.

The EP was recorded during the February 2013 blizzard that pummeled the northeast, leaving them and a team of videographers literally trapped inside New Alliance Audio. The result is a balance of solidarity and frightful cabin fever. Now, as the United States grapples with yet another wintery hellscape, The Proselyte rides again.

The band will embark on a short Northeastern run in advance of their Gypsyblood debut, beginning at O’Brien’s Pub on January 9th (dates below!).

THE PROSELYTE JANUARY TOUR 2014
January 9th Boston MA @ O’Brien’s Pub*
January 10th Long Branch NJ @ The Brighton Bar*
January 11th Pittsburgh PA @ Howler’s*
January 12th Columbus OH @ Carabar*
January 13th Chicago IL @ The Empty Bottle*
January 14th Lexington KY @ Al’s Sidecar
January 15th – Cincinnati OH @ The Rakes End
January 16th Philadelphia PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
January 17th Brooklyn NY @ Acheron
January 18th New London CT @ The Orphanage#
*with Jar’d Loose
# with Sea of Bones

THE PROSELYTE is:
Nicholas Wolf-vocals, guitar
Alec Rodriguez-vocals, drums
Brad Macomber-bass

LINKS:
https://www.facebook.com/Theproselyte
http://theproselyte.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/gypsybloodrecords
http://www.gypsybloodrecords.bigcartel.com/

The Proselyte, Sunshine (2011)

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The Proselyte Tour Starts this Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 3rd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Now a trio, Massachusetts bashers The Proselyte will take it to the streets and strut for 10 days solid on an East Coast and Midwestern tour in support of their forthcoming EP, Our Vessel’s in Need. The new release is listed as “coming soon,” and it follows a split with Florida’s Flyingsnakes that you can hear below, courtesy of The Proselyte‘s Bandcamp.

Some cool shows here, and on April 26, The Proselyte play O’Brien’s in Allston, MA, with Holly Hunt, Shroud Eater and Finisher, so good stuff abounds leading to the EP release. Behold the broness:

The Proselyte are welcoming spring with a 10 day run of the east coast and midwest. It’s the band’s first tour as a trio and they will be playing tunes off of their upcoming EP, “Our Vessel’s In Need.” Here is the routing:

Friday April 5th-Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
Saturday April 6th-RVA @ Wonderland
Sunday April 7th-Chapel Hill, NC @ Chapel Hill Underground
Monday April 8th-Lexington, KY @ Sidecar
Tuesday April 9th-Cincinnati @ Chameleon
Wednesday April 10th-Chicago, IL @ Ultra Lounge
Thursday April 11th-Columbus, OH @ Carabar
Friday April 12th-Baltimore, MD @ Charm City Art Space
Saturday April 13th-Boston, MA @ Great Scott
Sunday April 14th -Brooklyn, NY @ Public Assembly

Check out Facebook.com/theProselyte for updates!

The Proselyte & Flyingsnakes Split 7″

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