Dommengang Touring East Coast with Dead Meadow; No Keys out May 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dommengang (Photo by Christie Maclean)

If you haven’t yet told two friends about the badassery of Los Angeles three-piece Dommengang, now would be a good time. They’ve got a new record out next month called No Keys to follow-up on early 2018’s Love Jail (review here), with two new songs currently streaming — player below — and an upcoming East Coast tour alongside fuzzgaze mavens Dead Meadow that hits a few spots in the Northeast before jutting up into Canada and looping back through the Midwest en route home. It’s not the longest tour ever, but that’s all the more reason to show up, quite frankly.

Album is available for preorder, as the PR wire informs:

dommengang no keys

Dommengang touring the East Coast this spring with Dead Meadow

Dommengang’s No Keys out May 17th

A few short weeks ahead of the release of their new album No Keys, Dommengang have announced a tour throughout the U.S. east coast with Dead Meadow in June. Dommengang’s No Keys (out May 17th) channels the wailing, psych-rock abandon of their previous work into a lean, dark-edged record, colored by shared personal loss. Recorded with guitarist and engineer Tim Green (Joanna Newsom, Howlin’ Rain, Sleepy Sun, Fresh and Onlys, Golden Void), the album capture’s the trio’s spontaneous energy and restless spirit.

Dommengang’s spiritual home of LA makes its mark on No Keys. The songs are fit for the late-night drive into the California desert, a real and metaphorical escape for a rootless band always searching for a balance between the city and the rougher expanses of nature. It speaks to the explorer, and to the abandon of those willing to go all in. It is for the rocker giving it all, living out of a van, without a key to a permanent home.

Tracklisting:
1. Sunny Day Flooding
2. Earth Blues
3. Wild Wash
4. Stir The Sea
5. Blues Rot
6. Kudzu
7. Arcularius – Burke
8. Jerusalem Cricket
9. Happy Death (Her Blues II)

Dommengang tour dates:
May 16 – Long Beach, CA – Good Bar
May 17 – Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon
May 18 – Oceanside, CA – Pour House
May 19 – Landers, CA – Landers Brew
Jun. 5 – Washington, DC – Black Cat *
Jun. 6 – Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts *
Jun. 7 – Brooklyn, NY – Bell House *
Jun. 8 – Boston, MA – Sonia *
Jun. 9 – Montreal, QC – Bar Le Ritz PDB *
Jun. 10 – Toronto, ON – Velvet Underground *
Jun. 12 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom *
Jun. 13 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle *
* w/ Dead Meadow

Pre-order Dommengang’s No Keys:
https://thrilljockey.com/products/no-keys

https://www.facebook.com/dommengang/
https://dommengang.bandcamp.com/
http://www.thrilljockey.com/thrill/Dommengang/

Dommengang, No Keys

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Quarterly Review: Sumac, Cortez & Wasted Theory, Thunder Horse, The Howling Eye, Grime, URSA, Earthling Society, Bismarck, Grand Reunion, Pledge

Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

As we land on what would otherwise be the end of a Quarterly Review — day 5, hitting the standard 50 records across the span of a week that this time we’re doubling with another 50 next week — it occurs to me not how much 100 albums is, but how much it isn’t. I mean, it’s a lot, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been sitting and writing about 10 records every day this week. I know how much that is. But it’s astounding to me just how much more there is. With the emails I get from people looking for reviews, discs sent in the mail, the messages on Facebook and everything else, I could do another 100, easy.

Well, maybe not ‘easy,’ but it would be full.

Is it a new golden age of heavy? 45 years from now are rockers going to look back and say, “Hell yeah, from like 2012-2019 was where it’s at,” all wistful like they do now for the ’70s? Will the Heavy ’10s be a retro style? I don’t know. But if it was going to happen, there would certainly be enough of an archive to fuel it. I do my best to cover as much as I can, but sometimes I feel like we barely crack the surface. With 100 records.

That said, time’s a-wasting.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sumac, Love in Shadow

sumac love in shadow

What are Sumac if not the most vital and highest profile atmospheric metal act out there today? With Aaron Turner (Isis, etc.) on guitar/vocals, Brian Cook (Russian Circles) on bass and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) on drums, they qualify easily as a supergroup, and yet their third album, Love in Shadow (on Thrill Jockey), is still more about creative growth and the exploration of sound than anything else. Certainly more than ego — and if it was a self-indulgent exercise, it’d probably still be pretty good, frankly. As it stands, the four massive tracks through which Sumac follow-up 2016’s What One Becomes (review here) and their 2015 debut, The Deal (review here), refine the sound Sumac has developed over the past three years-plus into a sprawling and passion-driven sprawl that’s encompassing in scope, challenging in its noise quotient, and in utter refusal to not progress in its approach. And when Sumac move forward, as they do here, they seem to bring the entire aesthetic with them.

Sumac on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records on Bandcamp

 

Cortez & Wasted Theory, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Nine

cortez wasted theory second coming of heavy ch 9

Ripple Music‘s split series The Second Coming of Heavy hits its ninth chapter in bringing together Boston’s Cortez and Delaware’s Wasted Theory, and neither band fails to live up to the occasion. Cortez‘s range only seems to grow each time they hit the studio — vocalist Matt Harrington makes easy highlights of the opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Firmament” and the echo-laden “Close” — and Wasted Theory‘s “Ditchpig,” “Abominatrix,” “Baptized in Gasoline” and “Heresy Dealer” are so saturated with whiskey it might as well be coming out of their pores. It’s a decidedly North/South release, with Cortez rolling straightforward New England heavy rock through “Fog of Whores” and the Deep Purple cover “Stormbringer” while Wasted Theory dig with all good speed into a grit that’s more and more become their own with time, but there’s a shared penchant for hooks and groove between the two acts that draws them together, and whatever aspects they may or may not share are ultimately trumped by that. As Ripple starts to wind down the series, they continue to highlight some of the finest in heavy that the underground has to offer. One would expect no less.

Cortez on Thee Facebooks

Wasted Theory on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse

thunder horse thunder horse

There’s an unmistakable sense of presence throughout Thunder Horse‘s six-song/43-minute self-titled debut that undercuts the notion of it as being the San Antonio four-piece’s first album. With professionalism and a firm sense of what they want to be as a band, the Texans liberally sprinkle samples throughout their material and hone a professional sound built around massive riffs and even-more-massive lumbering grooves. Indeed, they’re not strangers to each other, as three-fourths of the group — guitarist/vocalists Stephen Bishop, guitarist/sampler T.C. Connally and drummer Jason West — double in the more industrial-minded Pitbull Daycare, whose debut LP came out in 1997. Completed by bassist/vocalist Dave Crow, Thunder Horse successfully cross the genre threshold and are well comfortable in longer cuts like “Liber ad Christ Milites Templi” and “This is the End,” both of which top nine minutes, and shorter pieces like the rocking “Demons Speak” and the shimmering finale “Pray for Rain.” With “Coming Home” and the sneering “Blood Ritual” at the outset, Thunder Horse pulls listener quickly toward dark atmospheres and flourishes amid the weighted tones therein.

Thunder Horse on Thee Facebooks

Thunder Horse on Bandcamp

 

The Howling Eye, Sonorous

the howling eye sonorous

Poland’s The Howling Eye make a lengthy long-player debut with Sonorous, but more important than the reach of their runtimes — closer “Weedblazer” tops 16 minutes, the earlier “Reflections” hits 12, etc. — the reach of the actual material. The common pattern has been that psychedelic jamming and doom are two distinct things, but The Howling Eye tap into a cosmic interpretation of rolling riffs and push it with an open spirit far into the ether of spontaneous creation. It’s a blend that a group would seem to need to be cautious to wield, lest the whole notion fall flat, but with the assurance of marked chemistry behind them, the Bydgoszcz-based trio of drummer/sometimes vocalist Hubert “Cebula” Lewandowski (also harmonica where applicable), guitarist Jan Chojnowski and bassist Mi?osz Wojciechowski boldly shift from the more structured beginnings of the funky “Kairos” and the aggro beginning “Stranded” into an outward push that’s ambient, psychedelic and naturalistic all at once, with room left over for more funk and even some rockabilly on “The Potion.” It is not a minor conglomeration, but it works.

The Howling Eye on Thee Facebooks

The Howling Eye on Bandcamp

 

Grime, What Have We Become

grime what have we become

Their roots in metal, North Dakota trio Grime — not to be confused with the Italian sludge outfit of the same name — unleash their first full-length in the form of What Have We Become, an ambitious 51-minute offering of progressive heavy rock marked by thoughtful lyrics and fluid songwriting made all the more so by the shared vocals of bassist Andrew Wickenheiser and guitarist Nick Jensen, who together with drummer Tim Gray (who would seem to have been replaced by Cale Mogard) effect a classic feel through “Alone in the Dark” while chugging and winding through the not-a-cover “Hand of Doom” with some harsher vocals peppered in for good measure. Seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Through the Eye” sets a broad tone that the rest of the record seems to build on, with the penultimate “Sunshine” delivering the title line ahead of the grittier closer “The Constant Grind,” which seems to payoff everything before it with a final explosion before a big rock finish. They’ll need to decide whether their sound will ultimately tighten up or loosen over time, but for now, what they’ve become is a band with a solid foundation to grow from.

Grime on Thee Facebooks

Grime on Bandcamp

 

URSA, Abyss Between the Stars

ursa abyss between the stars

Modern doom meets a swath of metallic influences on URSA‘s full-length debut, Abyss Between the Stars (on Blood Music), as members of Petaluma, California’s Cormorant take on such classic themes as wizards, dragons, yetis, witches, a spider king, mountains, and… actually, yeah, that covers the six included tracks on the 46-minute LP, which shifts gracefully between epic fantasy doom and darker, soemtimes more extreme fare. It’s easy enough to put URSA in the narrative of a band started — circa 2016 — around a central idea, rather than just dudes picking up instruments and seeing what happened next. Not just because bassist/vocalist Matt Solis, guitarist/keyboardist Nick Cohon and drummer Brennan Kunkel were already three-quarters of another band, but because of the purposefulness with which they approach their subject matter and the cohesion in all facets of their approach. They may be exploring new ground here, but they’re doing so on sure footing, and that comes not only from their experience playing together, but from knowing exactly where they want to be in terms of sound. I would not be surprised if that sound adopted more post-Candlemass grandeur with time — one can hear that burgeoning in “Serengeti Yeti” — but whatever direction they want to go, their debut will only help them on that path.

URSA on Thee Facebooks

Blood Music website

 

Earthling Society, MO – The Demon

earthling society mo the demon

Look, if you can’t get down with a bunch of freaks like Earthling Society tapping into the lysergic fabric of the cosmos to come up with an unsolicited soundtrack to a Hong Kong martial arts movie, I just don’t know what to tell you. Issued by Riot Season, the seven-track MO – The Demon is reportedly the end of the band’s technicolor daydream, and as they crash their plane into the side of “Mountains of Bliss” and hone space rock obliteration throughout “Super Holy Monk Defeats the Black Magic Mothafucker,” their particular experimentalist charm and go-anywhere-anytime sensibility demonstrates plainly exactly why it will be missed. There’s a sharp high-pitched tone at the start of opener “Theme from MO – The Demon” that’s actually pretty abrasive, but by the time they’re through the kosmiche laser assault in “Spring Snow” and the let’s-be-flower-children-until-it’s-time-to-freak-the-fuck-out throb of closer “Jetina Grove,” that is but a distant memory. So is consciousness. Fare thee well, Earthling Society. You were a band who only sought to make sense to yourselves, and for that, were all the more commendable.

Earthling Society on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records on Bandcamp

 

Bismarck, Urkraft

bismarck urkraft

Norwegian five-piece Bismarck bring spaciousness to doom riffing on their debut album, Urkraft, which is constructed of five molten tracks for a 34-minute totality that seems much broader than the time it takes to listen. Vocals are growls and shouts across a cosmic stretch of tone, giving a somewhat aggressive pulse to heavier psychedelic soundscaping, but a bouncing rhythm behind “A Golden Throne” assures the song is accessible one way or the other. The 10-minute “Vril-Ya” is naturally where they range the farthest, but the Bergen outfit even there seem to be playing by a set of aesthetic principles that includes maintaining a grounded groove no matter how spaced they might otherwise get. Rolling riffs bookend in opener “Harbinger” and closer “The Usher,” as “A Golden Throne,” playing-to-both-sides centerpiece “Iron Kingdom” and the subsequent “Vril-Ya” explore atmospheres that remain resonant despite the low end weight that seems to chug out beneath them. The mix by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer (who also co-engineered) doesn’t hurt in crafting their largesse, but something tells me Urkraft was going to sound big no matter what.

Bismarck on Thee Facebooks

Apollon Records website

 

Grand Reunion, In the Station

grand reunion in the station

In the Station doesn’t seem like anything too fancy at first. It’s produced cleanly, but not in any kind of overblown fashion, and Grand Reunion‘s songwriting is so solid that, especially the first time through their eight-track debut LP, it’s easy to say, “Okay, that’s another cool hook,” and not notice subtleties like when the organs turn to keyboard synth between opener “Eres Tan Serpiente” and second cut “Gordon Shumway,” or to miss the Latin percussion that Javier Tapia adds to Manuel Yañez‘s drumming, or the ways that guitarist Christian Spencer, keyboardist Pablo Saveedra, bassist Mario Rodríguez and Tapia work to complement guitarist Cristóbal Pacheco on vocals. But all of that is happening, and as they make their way toward and through the eight-minute fuzzer “Band Band the Headbang,” through the soaring “Weedow” and into the acoustic-led closer “It’s Alright,” the character and maturity in Grand Reunion‘s songwriting shows itself more and more, inviting multiple listens in the most natural fashion possible: by making you want to hear it again.

Grand Reunion on Thee Facebooks

Grand Reunion on Bandcamp

 

Pledge, Resilience

pledge resilience

16 minutes of scathing post-hardcore/sludge from Portuguese four-piece Pledge, who are in and out of their Resilience EP with a clean break and a windmill kick to the face. The newcomers lack nothing for ferocity, and with the throat-searing screams of Sofia M.L. out in front of the mix, violent intentions are unmistakable. “Profer Lumen Caecis,” “The Great Inbetweeness,” “Doom and Redemption” and “The Peter, the Wolf” nonetheless have groove built on varying degrees of extremity and angularity, with Vítor Vaz‘s bass maintaining a steady presence alongside the guitar of Hugo Martins and Filipe Romariz‘s drumming, frenetic as it sometimes is. I wouldn’t say things calm down in “The Peter, the Wolf” so much as the boiling seems to take place beneath the surface, waiting for a time to burst out, which it eventually does, but either way, for all its harsher aspects, Pledge‘s material isn’t at all void of engagement. It does, however, state the requirement right there on the front cover.

Pledge on Thee Facebooks

Pledge on Bandcamp

 

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Sumac Touring West Coast in January

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sumac (Photo by Paul Gonzales)

On the heels of the September release of Love in Shadow, the cross-genre three-piece Sumac have announced they will head out on a West Coast tour in January to, I guess, bring an apocalyptic feel to 2019 like that which has been so prevalent throughout this year. Nifty news for those on the Pacific Seaboard, and with word from Thrill Jockey via the PR wire below that there’s European touring in the works, one assumes that’ll be in February/March perhaps as a precursor to an East Coast run later in 2019. Although, to be honest, they could just about go anywhere. Australia. Japan. South America. Who’s gonna say no to Sumac? “Uh yeah, I used to be in Isis and these two dudes are in Baptists and Russian Circles, so uh, could we get a gig?” Booked. Immediately. Headlining. With the promoter’s band opening.

You get the point. Here’s the info:

sumac tour poster

SUMAC ANNOUNCE U.S. WEST COAST TOURING IN JANUARY 2019

Their acclaimed new album, Love In Shadow, is out now on Thrill Jockey.

Following the release of their acclaimed album Love In Shadow, SUMAC will be embarking on a West Coast tour throughout the month of January 2019, joined by Divide & Dissolve and Tashi Dorji. SUMAC plan to tour Europe later this winter.

Love In Shadow is a brutalizing dive into love and all its raw emotions. SUMAC are always searching for a new approaches and challenges. Turner’s nimble songwriting combusted with the road-honed intuition and technical prowess of his bandmates results in a sound that is at once complex and primal. Earlier this year, the trio released the collaborative album American Dollar Bill – Keep Facing Sideways, You’re Too Hideous To Look At Face On with lauded Japanese artist Keiji Haino.

SUMAC Tour Dates w/ Divide & Dissolve, Tashi Dorji
Jan. 11 – Vancouver, BC – The Astoria
Jan. 12 – Seattle, WA – Sunset Tavern
Jan. 13 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
Jan. 15 – Chico, CA – Naked Lounge Coffee
Jan. 16 – Sacramento, CA – Harlow’s
Jan. 17 – San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
Jan. 18 – Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon
Jan. 19 – San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick
Jan. 20 – Phoenix, AZ – Rebel Lounge
Jan. 22 – El Paso, TX – Rockhouse Bar & Grill
Jan. 23 – Austin, TX – Barracuda
Jan. 24 – Dallas, TX – Club Dada
Jan. 26 – Albuquerque, NM – Sister
Jan. 27 – Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge

https://www.facebook.com/SUMACBAND/
https://www.twitter.com/sumacband
http://www.facebook.com/thrilljockey
http://www.twitter.com/thrilljockey
http://www.instagram.com/thrilljockey

Sumac, Love in Shadow (2018)

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Helen Money Announces September Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

helen money

Last time I tried to go to a show in New Haven, Connecticut, I couldn’t do it. It was a weekend night, and if you’ve never been to New Haven, it’s where Yale University is, so it’s kind of a weird vibe in the town in general. I don’t think that was at Cafe Nine, it was somewhere else, so I can’t speak to where this venue is in particular, but the point is Helen Money is fucking awesome and the fact that she’s playing with CT’s heaviest, Sea of Bones, only makes me feel like I should give that show a shot. Helen Money, aka Alison Chesley, is brilliant live — her latest album, 2016’s Become Zero (review here) was much the same. That record is streaming in full at the bottom of this post and I heartily recommend you take the time to click play if you never have.

She’s also in Brooklyn and Boston(-ish) and elsewhere and the whole round of performances kicks off with one at Reggies in Chicago with none other than WovenhandChesley and David Eugene Edwards sharing a stage? Put out a record together, already. And by that I mean I wish they already had one.

From the PR wire:

helen money tour poster

Cellist Helen Money touring throughout the Midwest and East Coast this fall

Helen Money’s Become Zero out now

Late this summer and fall, Helen Money (cellist Alison Chesley) will be touring throughout the midwest and east coast, including shows with labelmates Thalia Zedek and Wrekmeister Harmonies.

Helen Money’s 2016 album Become Zero continued Chesley’s exploration of emotive and intense music. Written after the death of both of her parents, Become Zero amplified Chesley’s musical ferocity with palpable sadness and striking beauty. Using her extensively manipulated cello, Chesley joined forces once more with drummer Jason Roeder (Sleep, Neurosis), Rachel Grimes (Rachel’s) and collaborator and co-producer Will Thomas (who provides sound effects and samples) on an album that is incredibly personal and visceral.

Helen Money tour dates
Sep. 5 – Chicago, IL – Reggie’s w/ Wovenhand
Sep. 19 – Detroit, MI – Deluxx Fluxx
Sep. 20 – Syracuse, NY – Spark Art Space
Sep. 21 – Boston, MA – Midway Cafe w/ Thalia Zedek
Sep. 23 – Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus w/ Wrekmeister Harmonies
Sep. 24 – New Haven, CT – Cafe Nine w/ Sea of Bones
Sep. 26 – Philadelphia, PA – Ortliebs
Sep. 27 – Durham, NC – The Pinhook

http://www.thrilljockey.com/products/become-zero
http://helenmoney.com/
https://www.facebook.com/helenmoneyband/
https://twitter.com/Helen_Money

Helen Money, Become Zero

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Sumac Announce New LP Love in Shadow Due Sept. 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sumac

Not to be lost in all the excitement of Aaron Turner‘s prior outfit, defunct post-metal innovators Isis, getting back together under the banner of Celestial to pay homage to Cave In‘s departed bassist Caleb Scofield in Los Angeles this October is the fact that Turner‘s now-band, Sumac, are gearing up to release their third long-player the month before. What’s been titled Love in Shadow will be the follow-up to 2016’s What One Becomes (review here) and the band’s 2015 debut, The Deal (review here), and as the teaser below demonstrates, the creative progression is forward moving as ever.

In all seriousness, Isis getting back together for a one-off, especially given the motivation, is commendable, but Sumac are their own band to be sure, and there’s no chance that Love in Shadow will be lost in the shuffle. Expectations are high, to be sure, but Sumac have only proven up to the task of their pedigree and their work stands in testament of that.

You know all this, of course. This is one of those bands I could say anything about and no one will notice and no one will care. Stay tuned for the review where I say they sound like Bobby Darin. Coming soon.

PR wire info in the meantime:

sumac love in shadow

SUMAC releasing new album Love In Shadow Out Sept. 21st

On September 21st SUMAC, the trio of Aaron Turner (ISIS, Old Man Gloom, Mamiffer), Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists, Erosion), and Brian Cook (Russian Circles), will be releasing new album Love In Shadow. Earlier this year, SUMAC released their acclaimed collaborative effort with legendary Japanese artist Keiji Haino, American Dollar Bill – Keep Facing Sideways, You’re Too Hideous To Look At Face On.

Love In Shadow is a brutalizing dive into love and all its raw emotions. SUMAC are always searching for a new approaches and challenges. Turner’s nimble songwriting combusted with the road-honed intuition and technical prowess of his bandmates results in a sound that is at once complex and primal. Riffs lurch into psychotropic scrapes, drum fills are distended and mangled, and Turner’s voice carries the weight of a strife that is colossal in both volume and austerity.

Recorded live in a single room at Robert Lang Studios in Washington by Kurt Ballou (Converge), who later mixed the album at his own studio God City, Love In Shadow ushers in a more improvisational songwriting approach for SUMAC – a sea change galvanized by their collaboration with Haino. Finding comfort in the negative spaces within each track’s borderland was the trio’s primary goal in writing the four massive tracks comprising Love In Shadow.

On the album’s emotional motif, Turner says: “Since many of the surface level aspects of our being are often used as divisive tools to separate/alienate us from one another, the intent here is reveal that at our base level all humans desire and need to be loved and accepted for who they are, for just being.”

SUMAC – Love In Shadow tracklist
1. The Task
2. Attis’ Blade
3. Arcing Silver
4. Ecstasy of Unbecoming

Pre-order SUMAC’s Love In Shadow:
http://thrilljockey.com/products/love-in-shadow

Order Keiji Haino & SUMAC’s American Dollar Bill…:
http://thrilljockey.com/products/american-dollar-bill-keep-facing-sideways-you-re-too-hideous-to-look-at-face-on

https://www.facebook.com/SUMACBAND/
https://www.twitter.com/sumacband
http://www.facebook.com/thrilljockey
http://www.twitter.com/thrilljockey
http://www.instagram.com/thrilljockey

Sumac, Love in Shadow album trailer

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Quarterly Review: The Atlas Moth, Across Tundras, The Wizards of Delight, Against the Grain, Our Solar System, Dommengang, Boss Keloid, Holy Smoke, Sabel, Blackwater Prophet

Posted in Reviews on April 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

This is a crucial moment in any Quarterly Review. Today we hit the halfway point one way or the other. I still haven’t decided if this will be a 50- or 60-album edition; kind of playing it by ear, but either way, today’s a landmark in my mind in terms of how far to go vs. how far we’ve come. Uphill vs. downhill to some extent, but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m either half-assing it from here on out or that I don’t enjoy the challenge of reviewing 10 records in a day, one after the next, for (at least) five days in a row. I’ve always been a glutton for a bit of self-flagellation. Ha.

Alright, let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Atlas Moth, Coma Noir

the atlas moth coma noir

If one still wants to consider Chicago’s The Atlas Moth post-metal after hearing Coma Noir, at least do them the courtesy of emphasizing the “metal” part of that equation. For their debut on Prosthetic Records and fourth full-length overall, the five-piece worked with producer Sanford Parker to solidify a progressive metal sound that, whether in the harsh and weighted impact of the opening title-track or the later interplay between guitarists Stavros Giannopoulos and David Kush on screams and cleaner vocals in “Furious Gold,” seems to take cues from groups like a less manic Strapping Young Lad and a less watered-down Mastodon more than Isis or Neurosis. With prominent synth from Andrew Ragin (also guitar), and the solid roll from the rhythm section of bassist Alex Klein and drummer Mike Miczek, the band brings revitalized edge to “The Streets of Bombay,” and even on the slower, more atmospheric closer “Chloroform,” they’ve never sounded more lethal. It suits them.

The Atlas Moth on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Across Tundras, Tumbleweeds III

across tundras tumbleweeds iii

A collection of odds and ends from Across Tundras, the 10-track/52-minute Tumbleweeds III may or may not sate anyone hoping for a follow-up to 2013’s Electric Relics (review here), but it provides some curio fodder along the way to be sure, from raw opener “Final Breath over Venom Falls” to the acoustic-percussion jam “Bullet in the Butt” to the fuller roll of “Cold Ride” and later demos for “Spinning Through the Cosmic Dust,” “Hijo del Desierto,” “Stone Crazy Horse” and “The Stacked Plain,” which later became “Seasick Serenade” on Electric Relics, it’s at very least something for fans to dig into and a fascinating listen, as Across Tundras’ rambling sound is almost eerily suited to a home-recording vibe, as the “Stone Crazy Horse” demo, featuring vocalist Shannon Allie-Murphy along with frontman Tanner Olson, sounds all the more folksome as a result of its lack of production polish. Closing with Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” then, could hardly be more appropriate. Still waiting for a proper long-player to surface, but happy at this point to take what comes.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

The Wizards of Delight, The Wizards of Delight

the wizards of delight the wizards of delight

Like a chicanery-laced dusty vinyl with a naked lady on the cover, The Wizards of Delight emerge from the London underground to solidly declare “We’ve got the rock ‘n’ rollz.” And yes, they spell it with a ‘z.’ The presence of frontman Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen will be familiar to anyone who ever even briefly encountered Groan – dude makes an impression, to be sure – and the four tracks he and the surrounding five-piece of guitarists/backing vocalists Dan Green’s Myth and Lenny Ray, bassist/backing vocalist Eponymous, organist/backing vocalist Henry and drummer Reece bring is both funky and classically heavy, “Gypsy” referencing Dio Sabbath in the first line while “Mountain Woman” brings a heavy ‘70s shuffle to answer the way-un-P.C. “Shogun Messiah,” which seems to be working under the thesis that because it sounds like it’s from 40 years ago, they can get away with it. I’ll give them that the track is, to an unfortunate degree, catchy. As to the rest, give me the groove of “We Got the Rock ‘n’ Rollz” any day. It’s been a while since anyone so brazenly interpreted Mk. II Deep Purple and actually pulled it off.

The Wizards of Delight on Thee Facebooks

APF Records website

 

Against the Grain, Cheated Death

against the grain cheated death

Hard-touring Detroit heavy rockers Against the Grain are known for speed, and rightly so. When they burst into high gear, as on “Sacrifice,” “No Sleep,” “Last Chance,” “Rolling Stone,” “Enough’s Not Enough,” and “Jaded and Faded” from their latest offering and Ripple Music debut, Cheated Death. The follow-up to 2015’s Road Warriors (review here) sees them no less infectious in their live energy, but it’s hard to ignore the more versatile approach that seems to be growing in their sound, from the classic rocking “Smoke” to the near-centerpiece “Devils and Angels” which ballads-out its boozy regrets before entering into an effective mid-paced build that rounds out in choice dual-soloing. Likewise, though they open at a good clip with the title-track, closer “Into the Light” finds a middle ground between thrust and groove. The truth is Against the Grain have never been just about speed, but they’ve never so directly benefited from a dynamic approach as they do on Cheated Death either.

Against the Grain on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Our Solar System, Origins

our solar system origins

Immediate kudos to Stockholm-based psychedelic progressive explorers Our Solar System – aka Vårt Solsystem – for opening their third full-length for Beyond Beyond is Beyond, the five-track/41-minute Origins, with the side-consuming 21-minute “Vulkanen.” One could hardly ask for more effective immersion in the band’s world of patiently unfurled, languid psychedelia, and with the accompaniment of “Babalon Rising,” the jazz-prog tracklist centerpiece “En Bit Av Det Tredje Klotet,” the birdsong-laced “Naturligt Samspel” and the semi-freaked-out melodic wash of “Monte Verita” on side B, a full, rich, and mind-expanding cosmos is engaged, free of restriction even as it remains thoroughly lysergic, and adherent to no structural will so much as the will to adventure into the unknown, to find out where one progression leads. As regards the long- and short-form material on Origins, it leads far, far out, and if you don’t come out the other side wanting to own everything the band has ever released, you’re decidedly in the wrong.

Our Solar System on Thee Facebooks

Beyond Beyond is Beyond website

 

Dommengang, Love Jail

dommengang love jail

Once calling Brooklyn Home, Los Angeles trio Dommengang waste no time in getting down to the business of boogie on their second album for Thrill Jockey, Love Jail. Produced by Tim Green (The Fucking Champs), the 10-track/50-minute long-player has all the room for organ/guitar mashups, righteous West Coast vibes and easy-flowing classic heavy rock one could hope for, and in the opening salvo of “Pastel City,” “Lovely Place” and “Lone Pine,” the three-piece of guitarist Dan “Sig” Wilson, bassist Brian Markham, and drummer Adam Bulgasem reaffirm mellow bluesiness as well on the title-track and dig into ‘90s-style alt bliss on the penultimate “Color out of Space.” There’s a welcoming air throughout that holds steady regardless of tempo, and in heavier moments like the second half of “I’m out Mine,” the band resonates with fuzz and noisy elements that bring just enough danger to the proceedings to keep the listener riveted. Classy, but not too classy, in other words.

Dommengang on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records website

 

Boss Keloid, Melted on the Inch

boss keloid melted on the inch

It would seem that Wigan, UK, outfit Boss Keloid — newly signed to Holy Roar Records for the release of their third LP, Melted on the Inch – internalized a few crucial lessons from their sophomore outing, 2016’s Herb Your Enthusiasm (review here). At six tracks and 40 minutes, Melted on the Inch is about 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor. Its title isn’t a weed pun. Its cover art conveys a work of dimensionality, and most importantly, the album itself turns to be precisely that. Taking a significant step toward a more progressive sound, Boss Keloid maintain the heft of their prior outing but base it around material that, frankly, is more complex and dynamic. I won’t say that “Tarku Shavel” and “Lokannok” are without their elements of self-indulgence, but neither should they be for the five-piece to do justice to the multifaceted nature of their purpose. They still roar when they want to, but Boss Keloid strike with breadth on Melted on the Inch as well as sheer impact.

Boss Keloid on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records website

 

Holy Smoke, Pipe Dream

holy smoke pipe dream

After forming in 2015, Philadelphia’s exclamatory Holy Smoke! issued their first three-track release, It’s a Demo! (review here) the next year and showed marked stylistic promise in cuts like “Rinse and Repeat” and “Blue Dreams.” Both of those tracks, as it happens, stand at the opening of the band’s latest EP, the five-song Pipe Dream, and reaffirm the potential in the group. The opener (also the longest track once again; immediate points) is a tale of workaday redundancy, the very sort of monotony that the rest of the offering seems to leave behind in favor of post-grunge heavy rock, marked by the wah-bass on finale “Asch Backwards” and the brooding sensibility of the prior “Golden Retriever,” which surges in its midsection like a lost Alice in Chains demo only to end quiet once again, a departure from the linearity of centerpiece “Missing the Mark” just before. Less psychedelic than their initial impression conveyed, they seem to have undertaken the work of crafting their own sonic niche in Philly’s increasingly crowded scene, and there’s nothing on Pipe Dream to make one think it’s not a realistic possibility they’ll get there.

Holy Smoke on Thee Facebooks

Holy Smoke on Bandcamp

 

Sabel, Re-Generation

sabel re-generation

Sabel know what they want to be and then are that thing. Their third album, Re-Generation, arrives via Oak Island Records as six tracks of to-the-converted stonerism, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “In the Walls of Eryx,” the Swedish trio do little more than ask their listeners to smell the smoke emanating from their speaker cabinets (oddly sweet), and hone walls of fuzz that each seem to be bigger than the last. There are some elements of earliest Electric Wizard at play in “Atlantean” or the sneering “Voodoo Woman,” but belters like “Interstellar Minddweller” and “Green Priestess” stave off their sounding overly derivative, and though at the end of Re-Generation’s 42-minute run, one might feel as though they need a shower, the record itself proves well worth the dive into the muck. The band would seem to have carved their own descriptor with the title of their self-released 2015 LP, Hard Doom, and that’s as good as anything I could come up with, so let’s roll with it. They seem to.

Sabel on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Blackwater Prophet, As I Watch it Freeze

blackwater prophet as i watch it freeze

Cheers to Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment for putting me onto Spokane, Washington’s Blackwater Prophet, who with the seven-track As I Watch it Freeze collect various tracks recorded between 2015 and 2017. Thus something of a compilation, the 40-minute outing wants nothing for overarching flow, “In My Passing Time” leading off with a mellow psych-blues spirit that only grows more classic-feeling through “House of Stone” and the gorgeously pastoral “The Swamp.” The band have two proper full-lengths out, and if they wanted to count As I Watch it Freeze as their third, I don’t think they’d find much argument, as centerpiece “Gold in the Palm” opens like a gateway leading to the increasingly resonant “Careworn Crow,” the fuzzy swing of “Eating the Sun” and finally, the title-track itself, which answers the acoustics of “The Swamp” earlier while adding flourish of volume-swelling and swirling electric guitar and late choral vocals that only make the proceedings seem all the more complete in their engagement.

Blackwater Prophet on Thee Facebooks

Blackwater Prophet on Bandcamp

 

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Wooden Shjips Announce Tour Supporting New Album V.

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Do I wish Wooden Shjips‘ newly-announced tour was bringing them somewhere near me? Yeah, I do. But I also kind of wish I lived or at least had a rental property in any number of the cities listed that they are hitting, so, you know, take it with a grain of whatever kinds of grains you take. The psychedeliciosos are set to issue their new album, the apparently punctuated V., on May 25 via Thrill Jockey, and by then they’ll already be well into the process of heralding its arrival, which they’ll continue to do into June as they play Huichica Music Festival and more.

Album preorder link and tour dates are below courtesy of the PR write along with the stream of the single “Staring at the Sun,” so really I’m not sure what you’re still doing up here. Go on. Go dig in.

Go on:

wooden shjips

Wooden Shjips Announce North American Tour Dates

V., First New Album In Five Years, Out May 25th on Thrill Jockey

West Coast psychedelic pillars Wooden Shjips recently announced V., their first album since 2013, which shows the band acting in opposition to the dark vibes of contemporary American life in favor of an optimistic, bright mood. The band has now announced an extensive string of North American dates, bringing their peaceful resistance to cities around the continent early this summer. Legendarily powerful in the live arena, Wooden Shjips perfect their hypnotic grooves on stage.

Wooden Shjips previously shared “Staring At The Sun,” a nearly 8-minute track that was written while singer and guitarist Ripley Johnson watched a wildfire threaten his home outside of Portland, OR.

Wooden Shjips Tour Dates:
April 13 – Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
April 14 – Bellingham, WA – Shakedown
April 20 – Half Moon Bay, CA – Old Princeton Landing
April 21 – Santa Cruz – Michael’s On Main
April 29 – Austin, TX – Levitation Festival
May 25 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
May 26 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile
June 1 – Nelsonville, OH – Nelsonville Music Festival
June 2 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle
June 4 – Detroit, MI – Marble Bar
June 5 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern
June 7 – Los Angeles, CA – The Lodge
June 9 – Sonoma, CA – Huichica Music Festival

Pre-order V. from Thrill Jockey: thrilljockey.com/products/v-wooden-shjips

Wooden Shjips, “Staring at the Sun”

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Wooden Shjips to Release V May 25; New Single Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

WOODEN SHJIPS

This is one of those releases where I could say absolutely anything and it wouldn’t matter. Seriously, how high do you think the stakes are for my opinion about the next Wooden Shjips record? Pretty god damn low. As in, nil. This band gets covered by major corporate print outlets — the paper of record, and so on — and hey, I know my place. I might get a promo download, or worse, a stream, and I have no doubt that V, which is out May 25 via Thrill Jockey will be good enough to make me want to buy it, like everything else the San Francisco band has ever done, and I won’t have the money to do so and it will just be a bummer so I’ll either not actually listen or put it in the Quarterly Review so I can link back to something later when I drool about how good the band is when they announce tour dates or put up a new video or whatever it might be. It’s like my version of the “album cycle.”

But yeah, I could pretty much say anything about this record and no one will give a shit. Best of the year. Worst of the year. Doesn’t matter. The stakes couldn’t be lower if this was an episode of Voyager and Harry Kim was getting kidnapped on the holideck.

With that happy thought, here’s the PR wire:

WOODEN SHJIPS v

Wooden Shjips Announce New Album V.

Hear Expansive Lead Single “Staring At The Sun”

Album Out May 25th

West Coast psychedelic quartet Wooden Shjips will release V., their fifth album, May 25th on Thrill Jockey. Inspired by the tumult of the modern world, and the desire to offer a contrasting vision of peace, the band has created a record that filters their trademark hypnotic grooves through an optimistic lens, resulting in music that is bright and vital.

The band has shared the album’s first single “Staring At The Sun,” a track that clocks in at almost 8 minutes and was written by guitarist and singer Ripley Johnson as he watched wildfires ravage the Pacific Northwest during the summer of 2017. V. follows their acclaimed 2013 album Back To Land.

Pre-order V. from Thrill Jockey: thrilljockey.com/products/v-wooden-shjips

Wooden Shjips – V.
(May 25th, Thrill Jockey)
1. Eclipse
2. In The Fall
3. Red Line
4. Already Gone
5. Staring At The Sun
6. Golden Flower
7. Ride On

Wooden Shjips, long-time leaders of the contemporary psychedelic movement, expand their sound with V. The quartet of Omar Ahsanuddin, Dusty Jermier, Nash Whalen and Ripley Johnson augment their already rich sound with laid back, classic summer songs. The songs were written during the summer of 2017 by singer and guitarist Ripley Johnson as an antidote to the pervasive anxiety both political and natural. As Ripley tells it, “We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.

The first single “Staring At The Sun” is a nearly 8 minute laid back, slowly building narrative, whose lyrics tell of a gentle push and pull between the desire for sun and escape and the tug of anxiety, with peaceful resistance winning the day and guiding the tone. The restless traveler Johnson gives us a few of his signature traveling songs such as “Eclipse,” and “Red Line,” both showcases for the stellar rhythm section of Omar Ahsanuddin and Dusty Jermier. Their unparalleled sense of groove and restraint leaves ample room for Nash Whalen’s keyboard flourishes. There is movement and urgency in these tracks without aggression, a rolling foundation of rhythm over which Johnson’s voice floats and elongated melodic guitar lines soar.

Each song shimmers with a distinctly Wooden Shjips sound, a relaxed summer vibe. This was a conscious choice, an atmospheric goal that influenced nearly every detail: the tones, the delay types and reverbs used, as well as the synthesizer elements that color the songs. The basics were recorded by Jason Powers at Types Foundry Studio in Portland. The guitars and vocals were largely recorded in Ripley Johnson’s comfortable home studio. The album was mixed by Cooper Crain (Cave, Circuit Des Yeux) who the band has formed close bonds with on tour. The instructions were simple “We told Cooper to keep it really fat but to feel free to play around with the other elements, make a nice headphone mix with a lot of movement,” said Ripley, “I wanted it to be floaty because that’s kind of where my headspace was at the time.”

The band’s members collectively share a love of classic rock from the Velvet Underground to Neil Young, as well as more overt love of the San Francisco scene of the 60’s. This commonality in their formative musical years binds them even as they live in different cities. V. finds Wooden Shjips embracing the emotions behind those sounds; peaceful defiance and opposition, while creating a sound and counter narrative to today’s hostilities that is wholly their own. Wooden Shjips has with V. created the most concise, laid back songs of their career. Their music is a balm of sorts, a respite from the insanity that, through its regenerative abilities, empowers continued, calm resistance. A reminder of the simple power of peace and beauty. Wooden Shjips, through V., have demonstrated the power of beauty and the power in creating it even while experiencing overwhelming dread. It is the perfect summer album, brimming with optimism and a peaceful energy, aptly timed for release at the height of spring.

https://www.facebook.com/woodenshjips/
https://twitter.com/woodenshjips
http://www.woodenshjips.com/
http://www.thrilljockey.com/artists/wooden-shjips

Wooden Shjips, “Staring at the Sun”

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