Posted in Whathaveyou on December 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Not really much of a surprise that Truckfighters are coming back to North America to support the Feb. 4 release of their fourth album, Universe, but it’s nice to see it made official anyway. The Örebro trio will hit up SXSW and presumably a bunch of other cities as well, and hopefully some of the roadtime they’ve put in since the release of Maniain 2009 will pay off. That remains to be seen, but in the meantime, Universeis pretty high on my list of gotta-hear records for 2014, so any news about it is good news as far as I’m concerned.
Can’t stop the PR wire today:
TRUCKFIGHTERS to Release New Album “Universe” February 4
Swedish Hard Rock Buzz Band Sets Sights on North American Takeover Including Major Touring, Appearance at SXSW 2014
Scandinavian power trio TRUCKFIGHTERS will release its fourth studio LP Universe in North America on February 4 via Fuzzorama Records. The spectacular Swedish band, who Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Homme has called “not just the best band I’d ever heard, but the best band that ever existed” and who has created some of the best stoner rock records of the last decade, describes the new album as simply “the ultimate fuzz.” Universe supercharges the riff-heavy roots of TRUCKFIGHTERS’ signature sound while charting a more progressive, challenging path — a hybrid of fuzz and prog — with an increased focus on textures and dense arrangements loaded with engaging melodies and outstanding musicianship. These advancements don’t come at the expense of the catchy and heavier aspects of the group’s sound, rather it shoots TRUCKFIGHTERS psychedelically-tinged rock into rich and rewarding new dimensions. Universe is available for pre-order purchase nowat this location.
With Universe, the ideas TRUCKFIGHTERS have offered since 2001 — a colossal, airtight rhythm section, psychedelically-tinged guitarmonies, teasing maneuvers/crushing payoffs and pure climactic catharsis — are realized with purpose and aim. From the sonic high arc of the opening cut “Mind Control” to the fuzzy riffs, vocal hooks and proggy passages of the leviathan-like “The Chairman” to the monstrous groove of “Convention” and through to the album-closing, tongue-in-cheek nod to buddies Mastodon (“Mastodont”), TRUCKFIGHTERS’ Universe is a definitive mission statement and an accurate portrait of a band that has molded its veracious desert session anthems into chiseled hard rock monoliths.
Tracklisting: 1.) Mind Control 2.) The Chairman 3.) Prophet 4.) Get Lifted 5.) Convention 6.) Dream Sale 7.) Mastodont
TRUCKFIGHTERS will tour North America extensively this spring in support of Universe, bringing its explosive energy and contagious enthusiasm to as many cities as possible. The band is also planning an appearance at the 2014 South by Southwest Music and Media Conference and Festival, this coming March in Austin, TX. This, you won’t want to miss. Or as Josh Homme said, “Beatles, Schmeatles; Rolling Stones, Rolling Bones. Truckfighters: that’s the good shit.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
As Desertfest 2014 continues to take shape, the bi-city festival announced today the release of a new vinyl compilation, Desertfest 2013: Live in London. All tracks were recorded live at this year’s fest, and whether you were there or not, you should be able to appreciate exclusive live recordings from Colour Haze, Fatso Jetson, Yawning Man, Unida, Truckfighters, Lowrider, Dozer and House of Broken Promises recorded there. One can only hope this is just the beginning of many Desertfest documents to come.
Info and links — you know the drill:
***** DESERTFEST ‘LIVE IN LONDON AVAILABLE NOW ****
Good news Friends, The Vinyl has arrived at DF Towers and its looking and sounding super slick..Those that have pre-ordered should start to receive their copies next week..If you are yet to order your copy, we are running an XMas special where you can purchase a ticket to DF14 & the Vinyl for just £95..1st 30 orders receive a free poster too…
you can watch the latest promo video here
Desertscene are pleased to bring you ‘ Live In London ‘ a Special Coloured Limited Edition LP. Recorded live at London’s renown 3 day Stoner/Doom festival ‘Desertfest’ in April 2013!
The Record is out now and you can order your copy here.
The track listing features some of the best bands from the Stoner, Doom and Desert scene such as Unida, Colour Haze, Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man. Mixed by Harper Hug in Palm Springs this heavy weighted compilation is a unique and collectable item for anyone in the scene.
We have limited it to a 12″ Vinyl only meaning it will not be available in any other formats.
UNIDA – STRAY FATSO JETSON – FLAMES FOR ALL YAWNING MAN – DARK MEET TRUCKFIGHTERS – CHAMELEON LOWRIDER – FLAT EARTH DOZER – RISING HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES – HI-WAY GRIT COLOUR HAZE – TEMPEL
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s Truckfighters‘ universe, we’re all just living in it. The fuzz forerunner trio from Örebro already have a new EP, The Chairman, available, and they’ve backed that up with the announcement below that they’ll release a new full-length, titled Universe, in January 2014. This will be the first Truckfighters long-player since 2009′s spectacular third offering, Mania (review here), and it’s already high up on my gotta-have list for the New Year. Awesome.
The news just came down the PR wire:
BACK IN THE GAME. NEW ALBUM ”UNIVERSE” TO BE RELEASED IN JAN 24TH, 2014
It’s been almost five years since last time around but we are now delighted to announce the release of our fourth studio album, due Jan 24th, 2014.We’ve been working on this piece of art that we named ”Universe” the last year and more and are now satisfied to 100%.
We are so much looking forward to sharing our new music with you. Inspired by our touring over four continents, this album is the deepest and widest one we’ve done so far. Simply the best songs we’ve ever made. We feel confident you will like it a lot! Start the countdown, the fuzzy tones will open up a new Universe.
“Universe” will be released on Jan 24th, 2014, in Germany / Switzerland / Austria / Scandinavia & Finland, rest of the world to follow on Jan 27th / 28th onwards.
+++ PLEDGEMUSIC CAMPAIGN ON NEW ALBUM +++
Universe will come with many many special incentives – so don’t miss it!
This system is a fan friendly way to purchase the longplayer, but to also having it bundled in some special deals and w/ cool stuff associated with the new album. You can buy stuff here that you can not buy in any store, not even in our webshop. It also gives a percentage of profits to a charity organization.
We decided to donate our share (after reaching the campaign’s goal / 100%) to LIFEWATCH, a Swedish foundation that supports research targeting autism and cancer.
So not only you will purchase exclusive items nowhere else available, but also will purchase this for a good cause. We thaught this is an honorable way to offer out the album and all its exclusives. And – among those things we are offering – there is also a gig at your very own place!!!
+++ LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! +++
Just home from the Chairman Central European tour, we are alrady preparing for weekends in Sweden, Russia, and Norway the coming month. Nov 01 KlubbFuzz – Gavle, Sweden Nov 02 Dynamo – Norrköping, Sweden Nov 16 Mod St. – Petersburg, Russia Nov 17 Plan B Club – Moscow, Russia Nov 27 Union Scene – Drammen, Norway Nov 28 Hulen – Bergen, Norway Nov 29 Checkpoint Charlie – Stavanger, Norway Nov 30 Trashpop – Kristiansand, Norway Dec 27 Sticky Fingers – Goteborg, Sweden
Greece is also on the map in January 2014:
Jan 10 An Club – Athens, Greece Jan 11 Eightball – Thessaloniki, Greece
Big thanks to everone who came out to the shows in October. We hope you had a super good time just as we did. See you next time around! That next time around is not too far away from now. We can already alert you that the Truck from Örebro, Sweden, will conquer Europe in February / March 2014 again, more details on exact cities and venues to follow soon! Also, there are likely to be other continents on our roadmap in 2014, so stick around, we will alert you soon!!!
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Attention fuzzdudes and fuzzladies: The new Truckfighters EP is available to pre-order. If you’re having trouble receiving this message, then check your fuzztenna. Repeat: Truckfighters‘ The ChairmanEP can now be pre-ordered in a special edition through Last Hurrah Records — who, it should be noted, have also gone suitably all out in the packaging, what with the 12″ 45RPM vinyl and the variations on the colors with mixtures of opaque and transluscent. I’m not sure what the difference between “Desert Sunset” and “Desert Sunrise” might be, but I don’t mind the excuse to pick up an extra copy and find out.
Truckfighters are on tour in Europe now — dates below — and the EP is limited to 500 copies in the Last Hurrah edition. Check it out:
Pre-orders are now available for the Truckfighters The Chairman Special Edition EP multi-colored vinyl 12-inch. Sweden’s Truckfighters blaze an incendiary trail through high desert plains and mountains of stoner rock. Presented at 45 RPM for best possible sound quality, The Chairman Special Edition contains over 30 minutes of power “fuzz” and features the title track plus three live songs recorded on tour in Australia earlier this year.
The jacket cover artwork has spot UV gloss, spot PMS, and silver metallic ink designed by artist Lindsey Kuhn.
The 12-inch vinyl comes in two different vinyl colors: Desert Sunset and Desert Sunrise, each a mix of oqaque and translucent colors, limited to 500 copies (250 of each color).
Where there are big rigs and fuzz, one must not be surprised to encounter Truckfighters. Sweden’s foremost deliverers of high-octane fuzz, fresh off a US tour, have today posted a new video for the eight-minute jammer “The Chairman,” from their upcoming EP of the same name. It’s the band’s first release in four years, so even more interesting to hear how they’ve progressed in that time from the riffy contemplations of Mania, and “The Chairman” finds the Örebro trio working in jazzy noodling guitars with the expected blast of energetic groove and underlying melody.
Seems like wherever these guys go sound-wise, they always manage to make it a good time. “The Chairman” will reportedly be joined by live tracks on the EP, but if this is the only taste we’re getting of new Truckfighters heading into 2014, which will hopefully bring a studio full-length, at least it’s a substantial one.
Truckfighters, “The Chairman” official video
NEW MUSIC: “THE CHAIRMAN” EP OUT IN OCTOBER
Us being lazy? Don’t you dare even thinking of it. We just finished a full EP, featuring the video track “The Chairman”. It does feature a fuzzy live recording of “Desert Cruiser” (taped in Australia this year) and will be released on a nice heavyweight 10″ vinyl outside the US. Release date is Oct 4th outside North America.
In the US, the EP will come as a 4track 12″ vinyl, carrying 3 lengthy live tracks along “The Chairman”. The US version will be out later in October as well.
The digital EP always comes with 4 tracks and is available by Oct 4!
ON TOUR !
King Kurt called it the road to rack’n'ruin back in the 80s … Well, we just call it our living room. This is where we feel at home: on stage.
Join us for our “Chairman-Tour” in October, conquering almost 20 places and cities.
02.10.13, [DE] LEIPZIG – UT Connewitz 03.10.13, [DE] ASCHAFFENBURG – Colos Saal 04.10.13, [DE] Dortmund – FZW (Visions Westend Festival) 05.10.13, [CH] Pratteln – Z7 (Up In Smoke Festival) 07.10.13, [FR] Nantes – Le Ferraeulier 08.10.13, [LX] Luxembourg – Rock Box 09.10.13, [NL] Rotterdam – Baroeg 10.10.13, [BE] Antwerp – Trix 11.10.13, [NL] Groningen – Vera 12.10.13, [DE] Siegen – Vortex 13.10.13, [DE] Karlsruhe – Alte Hackerei 15.10.13, [AT] Innsbruck – PMK 16.10.13, [IT ] Milan – Lo-Fi Club 17.10.13, [IT ] Bolzano – Point 18.10.13, [AT] Linz – Stattwerkstatt 19.10.13, [DE] Munich – Feierwerk 20.10.13, [DE] Bremen – Römer
Still not enough truckfighting live-mania?
Well, we will play sweden and Norway in November as well, Russia, too. And for next year, we promise you a totally filled calendar full of Truckfighters dates around the globe. Keep checking withtruckfighters.comand with the newsletter!
Posted in Reviews on August 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A four-band bill at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar after a full workday with a drive to Massachusetts afterwards lurking on the horizon, moving ever closer to reality — I will say immediately that attending the opening night of Truckfighters‘ latest US tour was probably the least responsible decision I’ll make all week. Well, maybe not, but still: Resoundingly irresponsible. Part of doing it was proving to myself that I could, and sure enough, I came out of it on the other end alive, despite the best efforts of I-95′s endless stretch to claim my heavy eyelids as part of its likewise endless stream of trophies. Behold, the living dope.
But if you have to be an eternal sucker, at least an act like Truckfighters put on a show to make it worth your while. The Swedish trio of bassist/vocalist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm, guitarist Niklas “Dango” Källgren and drummer Andre “Poncho” Kvarnström were joined by NYC locals Kings Destroy, Iron Tides and Mirror Queen on a surprisingly diverse and at times surprisingly aggressive lineup at the Vitus, and the night proved quickly to have been worth the commute there and back again. Mirror Queen, who were fresh back from a European jaunt with Tee Pee labelmates Earthless and The Atomic Bitchwax that included a stop at Stoned from the Underground sounded crisp and tight, and since the last time I saw them was on the Rocks off Concert Cruise in June, part of the fun this time out was watching their set not get toppled by the choppy waters of the East River.
Not that that wasn’t its own kind of excitement, I’m just saying it’s a little easier to get a sense of the chemistry between lead guitarist Phi Moon and guitarist/vocalist Kenny Sehgal when they can stand up and play. That chemistry, as it happens, is formidable and was in top form at the Vitus bar, Moon tearing into technically and spiritually engaging press-me-to-8-track classic rock solos on the right side of the stage while Sehgal, bassist James Corallo and drummer Jeremy O’Brien jammed out on “Into the Nebula” from the band’s 2011 outing, From Earth Below. A contingent of (apparently Australian?) bros in the front of the stage wearing red Truckfighters tanktops quickly let it be known they were going to be the biggest douchebags in the room for the duration, and much sweaty man-on-man-but-supposedly-not-at-all-homoerotic moshing and grabassery did ensue.
That didn’t impede enjoyment of Mirror Queen, however, who round out as they did the last time I saw them with a jam on Captain Beyond‘s “Mesmerization Eclipse.” It’s a bouncing groove that’s always welcome in my cranium, but it did little in the end to foretell the aggression that would come with Brooklynites Iron Tides, who arrived with their own floodlites and an assortment of homemade-looking amps and cabinets — but for the Verellen heads behind bassist/vocalist Markus — to remind of the raw volume and power of earliest Zoroaster while keeping an underlying touch of New York noise in the jagged playing of guitarist Matt. They were loud, angry and, well, let’s go with “loud” again. Drummer Michele locked in impressive grooves throughout, and though Iron Tides had an EP for sale in the back (got it) that came out last year mixed and mastered by Hull drummer Jeff Stieber, most of what they played was reportedly new.
It was easy enough to guess that by Markus‘ remembering on stage who started what song, which gave their set a bit of humor and charm to go with its aggressive churning and tonal push. Their lights triggered by foot-switches, Iron Tides were nonetheless cohesive in their aesthetic and tight through the more angular aspects of their sound, which were complemented by stretches of ambience driven by Matt‘s guitar, sometimes seeming to nod at earlier Isis but never fully giving itself over to the heavy/atmospheric tradeoffs that have by now become post-metal cliche. Though their sound was obviously much different, I’d put Iron Tides in a similar category to Brooklyn heavy acts like Blackout and Polygamyst, who also take various familiar elements and seem to be making efforts to craft something of their own from them. Their effort in this regard and overall fervor were appreciated.
Kings Destroy hit probably the angriest set I’ve ever seen them play. Tossing in older cuts like “The Whittler” and “Dusty Mummy” alongside the newer “Blood of Recompense,” “The Toe” and “Turul” from this year’s A Time of Hunting(go buy it), they only seemed to get more pissed off after the aforementioned tanktop brigade — who, by the way, all matched — got into some hooliganry with vocalist Steve Murphy as he came down from the stage. I noted when one of them tried to pull him off again, the result was a fast as-he-was-jumping-to-the-floor kick square to the chest — no doubt a move leftover from Murphy‘s days in Uppercut. Laughed a bit at that.
Despite the shenanigans, Kings Destroy were tight and heavy as ever, made only more malevolent for the meanness that seemed to accompany their delivery. By the time they got around to “The Whittler,” it was like they were throwing the songs at you. They’re probably the single band I’ve seen most over the last two-plus years (live reviews here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) and I already look forward to seeing them with Pelican in October if I don’t run into them between now and then — they’re playing Vitus again on Thursday with Caltrop, should you happen to be in town– so please take it as coming from the voice of experience (oh yeah, their first record also came out on The Maple Forum, so there’s that) when I say that it wasn’t a put-on, or “show-anger.” Whatever it was, they played like they were fucking pissed off and it came through in the songs. Even “Turul” at the end was nastier than I’ve ever heard it, and while it’s always had a certain undefinable sneer, with the quiet riffing from guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski and the everyone-together-now timed hits driven by bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik there isn’t much room for all-out belligerence. They made room.
There seemed like a long break between Kings Destroy and Truckfighters, but once the latter got on stage, they were hard to miss. The crowd seemed to know the opening riff to “Desert Cruiser” was coming even before Källgren started playing it, and once Cedermalm and Kvarnström joined in, they locked in immediately from the start. I knew from seeing them at Desertfest in April that even with the new drummer addition they were as riotous as ever, and even though Kvarnström is a quieter presence behind the kit than was Oscar “Pezo” Johansson, now of Witchcraft, “Desert Cruiser” and longer jams like “Chameleon” from 2007′s Phiand “Last Curfew” from 2009′s Maniawere as unbelievably tight as one could ask, the band stomping a sneaker print in the line between technical precision and showmanship as few can. I think Källgren alone put more energy into his performance than 90 percent of the entire bands I’ve seen this year, not including his own of course, jumping up and down, running back and forth, headbanging and all the rest.
And that’s the thing about Truckfighters. Because if they were just a band who got crazy on stage, you’d go, “Well okay, that’s cool,” and move onto the next thing. But not only are they out of their collective mind when they play, but over the years they’ve become increasingly progressive songwriters, so that a riff as epically memorable as that opening and comprising much of “Desert Cruiser” can exist next to a cut like “Majestic” from Mania, the sprawl of which outlasts even its 13-minute runtime, and they don’t miss a beat going from one to the next. Cedermalm tipped the mic into the crowd for the opening track, at one point Källgren jumped off the stage and made his way through to the bar in back of the Vitus, playing the whole time — I think it was during the jam on “Monte Gargano,” but don’t quote me on that — and when the set was over, Cedermalm also got off stage to add to his already considerable bass cacophony by running his strings on the torso of some kid in a Big Lebowski t-shirt. They’re fun to watch, but if they didn’t have the songs to back them up — which I’m glad to argue they do — they wouldn’t get beyond the novelty factor.
In the end, they obviously did, and I think they wore out the crowd in the process. I had competing impulses of exhaustion and dehydration fighting it out, but though I knew it was the wrong choice on a practical level, I didn’t at all regret inconveniencing later-me to see the show. Catching Truckfighters again as they started this tour was obviously the onus for my being there, but front-to-back it was a killer show. I didn’t make it all the way back to Massachusetts, but stopped in New Haven, CT, to crash for a few hours before resuming the trip this morning. I’ve felt like I got my ass kicked all day, but this one was well worth a beating.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hope you’re ready for fuzzy times. Örebro-based megafuzzers Truckfighters are heading back to the States for a coast-to-coast run that starts in Brooklyn with Kings Destroy at the St. Vitus bar, and from there will head westward where they’ll perform with the likes of Fatso Jetson (in L.A.), Valley of the Sun (in Ohio) and a slew of other killer acts. In addition to that, the trio just announced a follow-up European tour for October that will coincide with the arrival of their new EP, The Chairman, which will be the first Truckfighters release since 2009′s golly-gee-whiz-that’s-a-good-record Mania (review here).
I had to cull the news from a couple different sources to get it all in for both tours, but what the hell, it’s Truckfighters. If they’re anywhere near as good at these shows as they were at Desertfest in London earlier this year, they’re going to leave scars:
CELEBRATED SWEDISH ROCK BAND TRUCKFIGHTERS ANNOUNCE U.S. TOUR DATES
Örebro, Sweden fuzz frontrunners TRUCKFIGHTERS have announced a U.S. headlining tour in support of their forthcoming new EP The Chairman. The highly respected trio – called “the best band that’s ever existed” by QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE frontman Josh Homme – will kick off the U.S. trek on August 19 in Brooklyn, NY. The two week trek will hit Philadelphia (August 20), Chicago (August 24), Los Angeles (August 27), Tucson (August 31) and more showcasing TRUCKFIGHTERS incredibly fuzz-tastic and electric live performance.
The band from Örebro (SWE) just announced its limited 10″ vinyl EP “THE CHAIRMAN” (also available as download) will be released on October 4th, once again via their very own and highly regarding label Fuzzorama Records!
Check out the EP’s cover art designed by Swedish artworker Jerker Josefsson! TRUCKFIGHTERS just revealed it.
(** The Chairman EP in the US will come in a different artwork and as a 12″ vinyl, also featuring a different tracklist than in the rest of the world **)
This release will be accompanied by an extended European tour, presenting the trio in its prime element: Live! Please see the dates below :
TRUCKFIGHTERS U.S. tour dates: August 19 New York, NY Saint Vitus Bar August 20 Philadelphia, PA KungFu Necktie August 21 New York, NY ** Secret Show ** August 22 Dayton, OH Blind Bob’s bar August 23 Rock Island, IL RIBCO August 24 Chicago, IL Reggies Rock Club August 24 Chicago, IL Bash On Wabash Street fest August 25 Milwaukee, WI Cactus Club August 26 Cedar Rapids, IA Chez Beavun’s Garden of Fuzz August 27 Los Angeles, CA The Satellite August 29 San Diego, CA The Griffin August 30 Palm Desert, CA The Hood Bar August 31 Tucson, AZ The Rock September 1 Indio, CA Indio Performing Arts Center
TRUCKFIGHTERS European tour dates: 02.10.2013 (GER) Leipzig, UT Connewitz 03.10.2013 (GER) Aschaffenburg, Colos Saal 04.10.2013 (GER) Dortmund, FZW (Westend-Festival) 05.10.2013 (CH) Pratteln, Z7 (Up In Smoke Festival) 07.10.2013 (FR) Nantes, Le Ferrailleur 08.10.2013 (LUX) Luxembourg, RockBox 09.10.2013 (NL) Rotterdam, Baroeg 10.10.2013 (BEL) Antwerp, Trix 11.10.2013 (NL) Groningen, Vera 12.10.2013 (GER) Siegen, Vortex 14.10.2013 (GER) Karlsruhe or Mannheim, venue tba 15.10.2013 (AT) Innsbruck, PMK 16.10.2013 (IT) Milano, Lo-Fi Club 17.10.2013 (IT) Egna / Bolzano, Point 18.10.2013 (AT) Linz, Kapu 19.10.2013 (GER) Munich, Feierwerk 20.10.2013 (GER) Bremen, Roemer
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Who wouldn’t want to settle in for a Switzerland autumn? Frankly, it sounds about as close to ideal as I can picture, and it would seem that Sound of Liberation — the booking powers that be behind the last few years’ Up in Smoke traveling fest — are in agreement. In league with the Swiss venue Z7 in Pratteln, they’ll present the first Up in Smoke indoor festival, and they’ve put together a killer lineup for their first outing. With Pentagram, Colour Haze, My Sleeping Karma and Truckfighters among their first batch of announced headliners, the Up in Smoke fest is sure to get a heavy beginning and hopefully it’ll be the first of many to come.
Here’s the poster and official announcement, plus a live clip of Colour Haze from the first Up in Smoke tour, just for the hell of it:
UP IN SMOKE indoor Festival
Born in 2011, the concept initially called UP IN SMOKE Roadfestival is a tribute to the clouds of blue smoke which wave around the dances and trances of music lovers around the world ! Each time, for each volume, we offered a well suiting band package and got them to hit the European roads to meet their fans and rock the crowds with psychedelic, doom, heavy rock and experimental riffs.
As free to move as a cloud of smoke were the four first editions of the road festival… But this year, the UP IN SMOKE festival becomes sedentary, and sets up in PRATTELN (CH), a location close to the French and German borders. On October 5th 2013, a new puff of smoke will rise up from the one of the very best Swiss venues : Z7 KONZERTFABRIK ! Take part and join us !
date : 05th October 2013 place: Z7, Pratteln, Switzerland
The roadfestival UP IN SMOKE stops its caravan in Switzerland for a new rendez-vous: after 3 years of wandering around Europe, we have decided to offer a “home” to UP IN SMOKE for one full day in the sweetest swiss rock venue : Z7. Description: Heavy Rock, Stoner, Sludge, Doom & Psychedelic Festival 16 bands – 2 stages – 1 day
Line up so far:
PENTAGRAM (US) ***excl.Switzerland Show COLOUR HAZE (D) ***excl.Switzerland Show TRUCKFIGHTERS (SWE) ***excl.Switzerland Show MY SLEEPING KARMA (D) ***excl.Switzerland Show RADIO MOSCOW (US) GLOWSUN (F) MONKEY 3 (CH) SHEVER (CH) JOULES (CH) MARANT (CH) + more bands to be announced soon
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I really, really don’t have a spare grand-plus lying around at this point, but golly that’s a cool lineup posted for Stoned from the Underground this year in Erfurt, Germany. It seems Lowrider‘s reunion — they were a highlight of the London Desertfest in a one-two punch of Swedish awesomeness completed by a set from Dozer immediately following — continues, which is unmistakably good news, and along with the likes of Earthless, Acid King, Troubled Horse, The Gates ofSlumber, Pelicanand the many others listed below, it seems like it’s going to be a killer weekend July 11-13. The kind of weekend I’d like very much to see, let’s say with a camera and laptop in tow. One of these years, maybe.
Indulge a bit of escapism with me, won’t you?
Welcome to the Mother of all German Stoner Rock Meetings
July 11th , 12th & 13th – Alperstedter Lake near ERFURT
Festival founded in 2001 and located in the very geographical center of Germany, in the area of Erfurt (Thuringen): Stoned From The Underground grew from a one day indoor event with 400 visitors in 2001 to a 3 days outdoor event with 3000 visitors last year !
Located a few kilometers away from the city, in a nest of nature bordered by the Alperstedter Lake, the festival is the perfect location for a very first relaxing summer weekend !
Whether you want to sit in the grass, puffing up clouds of smoke, sipping a beer while checking out the best Rock & Stoner acts of the moment,
Or whether you want to chill out laying on your belly on the sand of the beach with your toes cooling down in Lake’s water…..
STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND is the place where all your dreams will come true.
LINE- UP 2013: EARTHLESS ( Usa) MUSTASCH (Swe) POTHEAD (Ger)
TRUCKFIGHTERS (Swe) THE GATES OF SLUMBER (Usa) BEEN OBSCENE (At) LOWRIDER (Swe) HORISONT(Swe) TROUBLED HORSE (Swe) ISOPTERA (Ger) LORD VICAR (Fin) MIRROR QUEEN (Usa) ACID KING (Usa) PELICAN (Usa) THE OPERATORS (Ger) THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX (Usa) FIVE HORSE JOHNSON (Usa) SARDONIS (Bel) HYNE (Ger) DEVILLE (Swe) BLACK BOMBAIM (Por) HERKULES PROPAGANDA (Ger) TRECKER (Ger)
The photo above is of my wristband for this year’s Desertfest. You’ll note it’s not attached to my wrist. I got back just a little bit ago from the Electric Ballroom and had meant to ask at the front desk of the hotel for them to cut it off with scissors, since it’s pretty sturdy material — it’s had to be to last these several days — but forgot on my way up and wound up just pulling it off around my hand. I feel like I should have it framed.
Late nights beget later nights, so I’m not gonna waste time here. Day three was no less righteous than one would have to expect after the first two. Here’s how it went down for me:
The other day I received a vehement recommendation to check out Throne, to which I responded, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure they played last year and were cool.” Turns out they did play Desertfest 2012, at The Underworld, but this year the trio moved over to The Black Heart, which was where my day began with their unpretentious Sleep riffing and nodding rhythms. They still didn’t have an album for sale downstairs that I could find, but The Black Heart was, as it has been this whole weekend, packed out. On my way through, I watched a couple seconds through the doorway in the spirit of Roadburn and found myself still persuaded by their languid pacing and largely-unfrilled stonery. I had finished my cup of coffee about two minutes before they started playing, so it was a cool way to wake up.
Meanwhile, at The Underworld, Brighton/Manchester-based Blackstorm were dishing out a pounding the likes of which I’d not yet seen here. They were a band about whom I knew next to nothing, but their double-guitar uptempo crushcore was a longer way away from what Throne were doing at The Black Heart than the street that divided the two acts physically. I arrived part of the way through their set, which the five-piece delivered in lively fashion, with lots of movement, a swinging mic stand and big, chunky riffs set to breakdown beats. “Then You’ll Drown” was a burly basher, and I caught “Run with the Wolves” from their late-2012 EP, The Darkness is Getting Closer, which was distinguished by the dual vocals of guitarist Neil Kingsbury and frontman Karl Middleton. They were tight and had it together on stage, though my head was already preparing itself for the cleaving it would no doubt receive from who followed them.
Suddenly I had to wonder why I bothered bringing earplugs in the first place. British trio Conan weren’t through the second verse of “Hawk as Weapon” from last year’s low-end raging Monnos(review here) before I felt like they’d melted in my ear canal. Guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis, bassist/vocalist Phil Coumbe and drummer Paul O’Neil just released their set from last year’s Roadburn as the new Mount WrathCD and vinyl, and while that’s definitely a satisfying listen, I was glad to see them in-person again, because no matter how loud you turn up a record, I don’t know if there’s any way to do justice to what Conan are live. Beastly heavy. Heavy to whatever degree hyperbole you might want to put to it, and while that heaviness and Davis and Coumbe‘s tones are still the star of the show, the three-piece also have grown as a stage act since I last had the good fortune to see them. Coumbe‘s low growls and Davis‘ shouting worked especially well together, and in addition to “Hawk as Weapon,” “Battle in the Swamp” and “Grim Tormentor” from Monnos, Conan also played two new songs, “Foehammer” and “Gravity Chasm,” which continued the warmongering gallop of the earlier album tracks that set up an excruciatingly slow finale, all the while keeping their fury front and center and proving there’s more to their heaviness than what comes through their amps.The other day, when I got stopped by that customs agent, he accused me of trying to illegally emigrate to the UK. I’m still not planning on it, but Conan make a solid argument in favor of doing so.
Kudos to whoever handled scheduling the bands’ timeslots for putting Conan and Toner Low right next to each other. I’d never seen the Dutch three-piece before — they’re now in their 15th year and have just released their third album — but they actually share a lot in common with Conan in terms of their general ethic. They are unreasonably loud, unremittingly heavy in tone and seem like they’re ready to follow a riff anywhere it might lead them. The difference is aggression. Where Conan are all beheadings and mayhem, Toner Low are purely stoned. Toner Low played in the dark but for a psychedelic lightshow setup they placed in front of their drummer and a sheet with projected falling pot leaves on the guitarist/vocalist, but yeah, they’re about as stoner as stoner gets, working in elements of more primal drone here and there, but keeping a solid foundation of riffs at hand at almost all times. They brought their own rigs, which made sense for the bassist since her gear was different from what seemed to be on hand, but the guitar — which seemed to be actually coated in resin from the look of it — ran through an Orange half-stack and amp they brought, and there’s been so much Orange around Desertfest I can practically taste it. I can’t argue with their having done it, though, since Toner Low sounded unbelievably good. I bought their new record and am looking forward to checking it out.
Naam beckoned. I won’t lie, there was a part of me that was like, “Why the hell would you go to London and see a band you can see in New York?” The other part of me was all, “No way dude, this is gonna be awesome. Naam have a new record coming out,” and that part of me won. Once a trio, now a foursome and tonight playing as a five-piece with the addition of a second guitar — not that they were lacking texture before, but more never hurts – Naam‘s universe seems to be in permanent expansion, both in terms of their lineup and their sound. Tonight was the best I’ve seen them play, and I’ve seen them play a few really killer shows. The integration of John Weingarten‘s keys along with Ryan Lugar‘s guitar/vocals, John Bundy‘s bass/vocals and Eli Pizzuto‘s drums is complete, and to show that, “Starchild” from last year’s The Ballad of the StarchildEP was the highlight of their whole set, though “Beyond” from their forthcoming sophomore full-length, Vow, came pretty close. They’ve nearly perfected a balance between stoner riffing and Hawkwindian space rush, and not surprisingly, their heavy psych went over huge at the Electric Ballroom. Naam are just starting a two-month European and UK tour that will have them in this part of the world for a while — perhaps it’s telling of their relative receptions that they’ll be in Europe when Vow releases — so I imagine they’ll only further solidify, but already they played a headliner’s set, closing as always with “Kingdom” from the EP of the same name (it also appeared on their 2009 debut LP), the layers of which shimmered with psychedelic vibes prior to a full-on freakout at the end of pushed-over drums and guitar destruction. Awesome.
Here’s a direct quote from my notes on Truckfigters‘ set: “Everyone in the world who’s never seen Truckfighters live is a jive sucker and that’s that.” More or less, that covers my feelings on the matter. The Örebro trio — Ozo on vocals/bass, Dango on guitar and now Poncho on drums — are easily the most energetic and engaging fuzz rock acts I’ve ever seen, and before they were through perpetual opener “Desert Cruiser,” both Ozo and Dango had gone past the monitors at the front of the stage to be closer to the crowd, who were singing along loud enough to be heard over the instruments. But Truckfighters – who are fresh off a tour with Norwegian blackened punkers Kvelertak and shortly headed to Australia and New Zealand for a run of shows — aren’t just getting their cardio in, they’re also nailing the material and delivering it with a genuine sense of spontaneity and the impression that anything can happen at any given moment, such as Ozo jumping into the crowd during closer “In Search of The” or the band launching into “Chameleon” after someone in the crowd requested it, jamming on “Desert Cruiser” or unveiling two new songs, the first which fit (“fett?”) well with the bounce of “Monte Gargano,” which came later, and the second which had a fuller, fuzzier shuffle in the beginning and wound up thicker but still moving, with a quick bass and drum break to set up a return to what seemed on first impression to be a solid hook. “Majestic” was welcome, and from their audience interaction to the tightness of their performance — at one point Dango fell on stage after jumping off the drum riser and didn’t even stop playing as he got up — there are few records supposedly coming out before the end of this year that I’m looking forward to as much as the new Truckfighters.
An hour hardly seemed like enough time for a proper Colour Haze set. Back in September 2012, the ultra-influential Munich heavy psych trio rolled through London and did a full three hours, complete with guest appearances, keys, and so on. Still, I’ll take what I can get, and when it came to “Transformation” from She Said (review here) — my album of the year last year — I still heard the horn parts in my head even though no one was playing them live, so I’m not about to bitch that the experience was somehow lacking. It wasn’t. Colour Haze were a complete 180 in terms of presence from Truckfighters, mostly subdued, no jumping, no running around, plenty of grooving, but less about getting the heart rate up than giving the audience something to shut its eyes and get lost in. As guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philip Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald jammed past “Moon” from 2008′s Alland into “Love” from their ’04 self-titled, they were so locked into what they were doing that the real miracle of it seemed to be they didn’t lose the crowd in the slightest. An extended take only gave everyone watching more to dig on, so that by the time “Peace, Brothers and Sisters” and “Tempel” came around, the Electric Ballroom was suitably hypnotized. Seriously, I just wanted to give them money. Like, “Here, Colour Haze, I have 50 Euro left over from last weekend. Please take it.” I’ve seen them before — their set at Emissions from the Monolith in 2006 changed my life (ask me about it sometime), and at one or two Roadburn fests along the way — but even though this felt like a sampling, it was ultra-satisfying to watch these godfathers of the modern European scene do what quite simply nobody does better. As I already knew I wouldn’t be staying for the entire Pentagram set, Colour Haze were sort of my closeout for Desertfest, and I couldn’t have asked for a warmer farewell than that. They were masterful.
I got a press release earlier this week that oft-imitated doom pioneers Pentagram had a new guitarist in the form of Philly-based Matt Goldborough, but that the lineup was otherwise the same as when Victor Griffin was still slinging axe, with Sean Saley on drums and Greg Turley on bass with frontman/defining presence Bobby Liebling on vocals. Of course, lineup changes are nothing new for Liebling‘s band — their legacy is as much about tumult as it is about the riff to “Forever My Queen” — but Griffin‘s presence brought a certain legitimacy to Pentagram‘s recent run and their 2011 Last Rites comeback album (review here), and his departure, whatever the circumstances may have been, changes the context of the band, Griffin – who also played today with his new outfit In~Graved – being one of very few others who’ve done time in Pentagram who can lay reasonable claim to the material. He may well have come out to guest on guitar (I recall seeing the band in 2009 when he wasn’t with them and that happened), but if he did, I wasn’t there to see it. I stayed for about four songs and then had to split to come back to the hotel, write and pack for my flight out tomorrow. For the portion I did catch, however — “Day of Reckoning,” “Forever My Queen,” “Treat Me Right” and “Livin’ in a Ram’s Head” — Pentagram were tight and Liebling was Liebling. There are few things as much fun to watch in a concert setting as Bobby Liebling flipping out to a guitar solo. Like he hasn’t been staring at them for 40 years now. Awesome. Turley and Saley have the material on lockdown, and as the new guy, Goldborough more than held his own on guitar, a younger presence giving some freshness to what might just as easily have come across stale otherwise. I’ve seen worse from Pentagram, and though one can dream of this or that reunion lineup, the simple fact that they exist and persist is to be… respected? Maybe. Probably. Definitely gazed at in astonishment. And so they were.
I have work to do. As in, for my job. And so I know that Desertfest, as blissful as it has been, must be over. My plan is to write up some concluding thoughts for this whole trip tomorrow on the plane, and I’ll include a thanks list with that, but before I switch off to picture-sorting mode, I just want to say it’s been an absolute pleasure and an honor to be back here in Camden this weekend, to see the bands I’ve been lucky enough to be here to see and to meet the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet. This place is awesome (but for the weather), the music is great and I feel like even more than last year, Desertfest is developing a genuine vibe all its own. I was beat today, t-i-r-e-d, but at the same time, I knew I wanted to take as much of the proceedings in as possible, because when I’m back home slogging away in the office, I’m going to miss it.
More to come tomorrow, and more pics after the jump. Thanks as always for reading.
Posted in Features on January 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last year was a monster. You might say I’m still catching up on reviews for records that came out in October. Yet here we stand in 2013. It’s a whole new year and that means instead of looking back at some of the best releases, it’s time to look ahead and nerd out at what’s to come. Frankly, either way is a good time, but with some of what’s included on this list, 2013 has the potential to be yet another incredible year for lovers of the heavy.
Across a range of genres and subgenres, there are bands big and small, known and unknown, getting ready to unleash debuts, follow-ups and catalog pieces that by the time December rolls around, will have defined the course of this year. It’s always great to hold an album in your hands, to put it on and listen to it for the first or 19th time, but part of the fun is the excitement beforehand too, and that’s where we’re at now.
Some of these I’ve heard, most I haven’t, and some are only vague announcements, but when I started out putting this list together, my plan was to keep it to 10 and I wound up with twice that many because there was just too much happening to ignore. The list is alphabetical because it doesn’t make any sense to me to rate albums that aren’t out yet, and I hope if you find something you’d like to add, you’ll please feel free to leave a comment below.
Thanks in advance for reading, and enjoy:
Acid King, TBA
We begin with only the basest of speculations. Would you believe me if I told you that 2013 makes it eight years since the heavier-than-your-heavy-pants San Francisco trio Acid King released their last album, III? Of course you wouldn’t believe me. You’d be like, “Dude, no way,” but it’s true. Eight friggin’ years. They’ve hinted all along at new material, toured Europe and played fests in the States like Fall into Darkness, but really, it’s time for something new on record. Even an EP. A single! I’ll take what I can get at this point, so long as it’s Lori S. riffing it.
Chances are, the above isn’t the final art for Argentinian Los Natas-offshoot Ararat‘s forthcoming III, but frontman Sergio Chotsourian has posted a few demos over the last several months and the logo image came from that. Either way, with as far as last year’s II(review here) went in expanding their sound, I can’t wait to hear the final versions of the tracks for the next one. They’re still flying under a lot of people’s radar, it seems, but Ararat are quickly becoming one of South America’s best heavy psych acts. Do yourself a favor and keep an eye out.
Brooklyn trio Bezoar‘s 2012 debut, Wyt Deth, might have been my favorite album that I never reviewed last year, and needless to say, that’s not a mistake I’m going to make twice. The new songs I’ve heard the three-piece play live have ruled and an alliance with engineer Stephen Conover (whose discography includes Rza and Method Man) is intriguing to say the least. I’m sure whatever Bezoar come out with, the performances from bassist/vocalist Sara Villard, guitarist Tyler Villard and drummer Justin Sherrell will be as hard to pin down as the debut was. It’s a record I’m already looking forward to being challenged by.
Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era
Due out April 9, Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s The Edge of an Era will mark the full-length debut for the ambitious trio (now based in L.A.) on Tee Pee Records following on the heels of the impressive The Storm Generation EP (review here). From the Scott Reeder production to the band’s engaging heavy psych/desert rock blend, this one seems bound to win Blaak Heat Shujaa a lot of new friends, and if the advance EP is anything to go by, The Edge of an Eracould prove to be aptly-titled indeed.
Black Pyramid, Adversarial
No release date yet, but so far as I know, Adversarial, which is Massachusetts doom rockers Black Pyramid‘s third album and first to be fronted by guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard, is recorded, mixed and mastered. Song titles include “Swing the Scimitar,” “Onyx and Obsidian,” “Issus,” “Bleed Out” and “Aphelion” (the latter was also released as a limited single in 2012 by Transubstans as a split with Odyssey), and having seen the band live with this lineup, expect no less than a beheading. Also watch for word from the recently announced side-project from Shepard and bassist Dave Gein, The Scimitar.
Black Sabbath, 13
There was a bit of a shitstorm this past weekend when the title of Black Sabbath‘s first Ozzy Osbourne-fronted album since 1978 was revealed in a press release. Nonetheless, 13is set for release in June and will feature Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine on drums in place of Bill Ward, who last year was engaged in a well-publicized contract dispute with the band. Bummer though that is and as crappy and generic a title as 13 makes — especially this year — let’s not forget that Heaven and Hell‘s The Devil You Know also had a crap title and it was awesome. I’m not sure if I’m willing to stake anticipation on the difference between the vocals of Ronnie James Dio circa 2010 and Ozzy Osbourne in 2013, or Rick Rubin‘s production, but hell, is Geezer Butler playing bass on it? Yes? Well, okay then, I’ll listen. The world can do a lot worse than that and another batch of Tony Iommi riffs, whatever else may be in store.
Clutch, Earth Rocker
It’s a ripper. With Earth Rocker, Clutch reunite with Blast Tyrant producer Machine and the results are a record varied enough to keep some of the recent blues elements of the past couple albums (“Gone Cold”) while also showcasing a reinvigorated love of straight-up heavy rock numbers on tracks like “Crucial Velocity,” “Book, Saddle & Go” and “Cyborg Betty.” Longtime Clutch fans can expect a bigger guitar sound from Tim Sult, killer layering and much personality from vocalist Neil Fallon and yet another stellar performance from the best rhythm section in American heavy, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster. No doubt in my mind it’ll prove one of the year’s best when 2013 is done. Once more unto the breach!
Devil to Pay, Fate is Your Muse
Last month, I hosted a Devil to Pay video premiere for the Indianapolis-based rockers’ new track, “This Train Won’t Stop,” from the 7″ single of the same name that precedes the release of their Ripple Music debut full-length (fourth overall), Fate is Your Muse. If the 575-plus Thee Facebook “Likes” are anything to go by, anticipation for the album is pretty high. Reasonably so. When I saw Devil to Pay at last year’s SHoD fest, the new material was killer and the band seemed more confident than ever before. Stoked to hear how that translates to a studio recording and how the band has grown since 2009′s Heavily Ever After.
Egypt, Become the Sun
Technically speaking, Become the Sun is the full-length debut from North Dakota doomers Egypt. The band released their self-titled demo through MeteorCity in 2009 (review here), were broken up at the time, and reassembled with a new guitarist for Become the Sun– which is the only album on this list to have already been reviewed. I don’t know about a physical release date, but it’s available now digitally through iTunes and other outlets, and however you do so, it’s worth tracking down to get the chance to listen to it. Underrated Midwestern riffing, hopefully with a CD/LP issue coming soon.
The Flying Eyes, TBA
Currently holed up in Lord Baltimore Studios with producer Rob Girardi, Baltimore’s The Flying Eyes are reportedly putting the finishing touches on the follow-up to 2011′s immersive Done So Wrong, an album full of young energy and old soul. Along with Blaak Heat Shujaa above, I consider these dudes to be right at the forefront of the next generation of American heavy psych and I’m excited to hear what kind of pastoral blues works its way into their tracks when the album finally gets released. They’re a band you’re probably going to hear a lot about this year, so be forewarned.
Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man
The melodicism of Boston-based Gozu‘s second Small Stone full-length, The Fury of a Patient Man (I swear I just typed “The Fury of a Patient Mrs.”) is no less striking than its album cover. I’ve had this one for a while, have gotten to know it pretty well and my plan is to review it next week, so keep an eye out for that, but for now, I’ll just say that the sophomore outing is a fitting answer to the potential of Gozu‘s 2010 debut, Locust Season (review here) and marks the beginning of what already looks like another strong year for Small Stone. I never thought I’d be so into a song called “Traci Lords.”
Halfway to Gone, TBA
What I’d really like to see happen is for Halfway to Gone – who are high on my list of New Jersey hometown heroes and who haven’t had a new LP out since their 2004 self-titled — to put out a new record in 2013, for it to lay waste to everyone who hears it, and for the band to finally get the recognition they’ve long since deserved. I’ve been charged up on revisiting their three albums since I saw them at the Brighton Bar this past July and after a long wait, rumors, breakups, makeups, etc., I’ve got my hopes up that this year is when these dudes pull it together and make a new one happen. It’s been too long and this band is too good to just let it go.
Kings Destroy, TBA
Confession time: I have the Kings Destroy record. I’ve had it for a bit now. It rules. I don’t know when you’re gonna hear it, but it’s strange and eerie and kind of off the wall stylistically and it doesn’t really sound like anything else out there. Last I heard they’re looking for a label, and whoever ends up with it is lucky. I use a lot of descriptors for bands and their albums, but rarely will I go so far as to call something unique. This album is. If you’ve had the chance to check out songs like “The Toe” and “Turul” live, you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, then stick around because with all the sessions I’ve had with the tracks, I still feel outclassed by what these guys are doing. Shine on, you doomed weirdos.
The Kings of Frog Island, Volume IV
I keep going back to the video for “Long Live the King” that Leicester, UK, fuzz rockers The Kings of Frog Island put up back in October. No, really, I keep going back. It’s a good song and I keep listening to it. Just about any other details regarding their fourth album and first without guitarist/vocalist Mat Bethancourt (Josiah, Cherry Choke), Volume IV, are nil, but periodic updates on the band’s Thee Facebooks have it that progress on the recording is being made, and in the meantime, I don’t seem to have any trouble paying return visits to “Long Live the King.” Hopefully Elektrohasch stays on board for a CD release, and hopefully it happens soon.
Several times over the last couple months I’ve had occasion to say it to people and I’ll say it here as well: I think Lo-Pan are the best American stoner rock band going right now. I was interested to see how they handled the bigger stage for their opening slot for High on Fire and Goatwhore (review here), and as ever, they killed. I haven’t the faintest idea what their recording plans might be, if they’ll even sit still long enough to put an album to tape in time to have it out in 2013 — I suspect it depends on what tour offers come up in the meantime — but new songs “Colossus” and “Eastern Seas” bode well for their being able to continue the course of momentum that the excellence of 2011′s Salvador(review here) and all their hard work before and since has put them on.
Queens of the Stone Age, TBA
It probably wouldn’t be fair to call the upcoming Queens of the Stone Age album a reunion between Josh Homme and Dave Grohl since the two also played together in Them Crooked Vultures and Grohl only drummed on Songs for the Deaf, but it’s exciting news anyway and could mean good things are coming from QOTSA, whose last outing was 2007′s comparatively lackluster Era Vulgaris. The big questions here are how the time apart from the band may or may not have affected Homme‘s songwriting and where he’s decided he wants to take the Queens sound. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Sungrazer & The Machine, Split
With the Strikes and Gutters tour already booked to support it (dates above; or here), Dutch upstart heavy psych jammers The Machine and Sungrazer have teamed up for a split release as well that’s bound to feature some of the year’s best fuzz. The two bands have a lot in common, but they’re pretty distinct from each other sonically too, and with The Machine guitarist/vocalist David Eering helming the recording, you can safely bet it’ll capture the live, jammy feel both groups share. Latest word has it that the mastered tracks are in-house, so watch for more to come as we get closer to the Valentine’s Day launch of the tour.
The Swedish fuzz juggernauts’ fourth album overall, this will be Truckfighters‘ first with new drummer McKenzo alongside the core songwriting duo of Dango and Ozo. They’ve been teasing recording updates and threatening song clips, but as soon as I run into something concrete, I’ll share. I’m especially looking forward to the Truckfighters album since it means they’ll likely come back to the US for another tour, and since 2009′s Mania (review here) was so damned brilliant. Not sure on a release date, but it’s high on the list of necessities anyway, however low it may appear alphabetically.
Valley of the Sun, TBA
All I’m going on in including Ohio-based desert rockers Valley of the Sun on this list is a New Year’s message they put out there that read, “Happy New Year, Brothers and Sisters!!! You can count on a Valley of the Sun full-length in 2013.” Hey, I’ve relied on less before, and even if you want to call it wishful thinking, the Cincinnati trio are due a debut full-length behind 2011′s righteous The Sayings of the Seers EP (review here). Even if it doesn’t show up until November or December, I’ll basically take it whenever the band gets around to releasing. Riffs are welcome year-round.
Well, I mean, yeah. Right? Yeah, well, sure. I mean. Well. Yeah. I mean, sure. Right? It’s a supergroup with YOB‘s Mike Scheidt on vocals, John Cobbett of Hammers of Misfortune on guitar, Sigrid Sheie of Hammers of Misfortune on bass and Aesop Dekker of Agalloch and Worm Ouroboros on drums. Album’s done, set for release on Profound Lore. So, I mean, you know, yeah. Definitely. No music has made its way to the public yet — though that can’t be far off — but either way, sign me the fuck up. Anywhere this one goes, I’m interested to find out how it gets there.
Vista Chino, TBA
After that lawsuit, it’s not like they could go ahead and call the band Kyuss Still Lives!, so the recently-announced Vista Chino makes for a decent alternative and is much less likely to provoke litigation. But still, the Kyuss Lives! outgrowth featuring former Kyuss members John Garcia, Nick Oliveri and Brant Bjork along with guitarist Bruno Fevery is of immediate consequence. I’m not sure what the timing on the release is, but they’ve already been through enough to get to this point that one hopes a new album surfaces before the end of 2013. What I want to know next is who’s recording the damn thing.
Yawning Man, Gravity is Good for You
Not much has been said in the time since I interviewed Gary Arce, guitarist and founder of influential desert rock stalwarts Yawning Man, about the 2LP Gravity is Good for Yourelease (the Raymond Pettibon cover for which you can see above), but the band has been confirmed for Desertfest since then and they’re playing in L.A. on Jan. 25, so they’re active for sure and presumably there’s been some progress on the album itself. It remains to be seen what form it will take when it surfaces, and the lineup of the band seems somewhat nebulous as well, but when there’s a desert, there’s Yawning Man, and there’s always a desert. 2010′s Nomadic Pursuits(review here) was a triumph, and deserves a follow-up.
Anyone else notice that the “20 Albums to Watch for” list has 22 albums on it? Maybe I wanted to see if you were paying attention. Maybe I can’t count. Maybe I just felt like including one more. Maybe I had 21 and then added Vista Chino after someone left a comment about it. The possibilities are endless.
So too is the list of bands I could’ve included here. Even as I was about halfway through, a new Darkthrone track surfaced from an album due Feb. 25 called The Underground Resistance, and news/rumors abound of various substance concerning offerings from YOB, Eggnogg, When the Deadbolt Breaks, Mars Red Sky, Asteroid, Apostle of Solitude, Windhand, Phantom Glue, the supergroup Corrections House, Kingsnake, Sasquatch — I’ve already made my feelings known on the prospect of a new Sleep record — news went up yesterday about Inter Arma‘s new one, and you know Wino‘s gonna have an album or two out before the end of the year, and he’s always up to something good, so 20, 22, 35, it could just as easily go on forever. Or at least very least the whole year.
If there’s anything I forgot, anything you want to include or dispute, comments are welcome and encouraged.
Posted in Features on July 5th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
For more than a decade, Greenleaf has existed in its own place within the sphere of Swedish heavy rock. Begun as a side-project for Dozer guitarist Tommi Holappa and drummer Karl Daniel Lidén with bassist Bengt Bäcke (who also engineered Dozer‘s earliest demos), Greenleaf released their first EP in 2000, working with the simple ethic of paying homage to ’70s rock. Then fronted by Peder Bergstrand of the still-underrated Lowrider, it would be Dozer‘s own Fredrik Nordin in the vocal role for 2001′s Revolution Rock full-length debut, and that lineup would be joined by Demon Cleaner guitarist Daniel Jansson for their Small Stone Records sophomore outing, 2003′s Secret Alphabets.
Four years pass, and in the meantime, Demon Cleaner has broken up, Lowrider has broken up, Dozer has put out an excellent album on Small Stone in the form of 2005′s Through the Eyes of Heathens, and subsequently toured on it. Time has gone quickly, but when Greenleaf is picked up again with 2007′s Agents of Ahriman, the result is one of the decade’s best records, and I’ll say that flat out, no hesitation. Bringing in former Dozer drummer Erik Bäckwell in place of Lidén — also by now a noted recording engineer — the reinvigorated unit now boasts vocals from Oskar Cedermalm of burgeoning fuzz mavens Truckfighters, as well as a slew of guest spots, including from Bergstrand and The Awesome Machine‘s John Hermanssen, and songs like “Alishan Mountain,” “Black Tar” and “Ride Another Highway” make it an absolute classic in its genre, giving a sincere modern edge to what many of their countrymen and others around the world were just starting to discover within heavy ’70s rock.
Five more years pass. Dozer too seems to have been at least mostly put to rest following the Lidén-produced Beyond Colossal and Nordin, an essential piece of that collective, is back in school. Holappa — having tried to get a new band going with Lidén called Dahli (an apparently premature interview about the project was conducted early in 2010) that didn’t materialize owing to the drummer’s busy schedule and the lack of a vocalist — decides it’s time to once again reform Greenleaf. He calls Bäcke and they begin writing. Young drummer Olle Mårthans, who played on the last Dozer record, is brought in for that position, and Dozer bassist Johan Rockner is brought in on second guitar. Cedermalm, fresh off the success of Truckfighters‘ European release for Mania, returns on vocals, and Nest of Vipers starts to take shape.
And in the 12-year-plus semi-tenure of Greenleaf, it might just be Nest of Vipers that stands as their crowning achievement. Holappa, who seems to play the role of organizer as much as that of guitarist, has assembled a terrifyingly rich collection of songs that, set to tape by Lidén, not only provide an answer to Dozer‘s (allegedly) final statement, but push their classic heavy rock influence into bombastic new territory, a five-minute track like “Tree of Life” sounding positively epic for the space in the recording while cuts like “Jack Staff,” “Case of Fidelity” and “The Timeline’s History” refine the ultra-memorability that first showed itself on Agents of Ahriman into something wholly Greenleaf‘s at the same time guest appearances from Bergstrand, Nordin and former Opeth/Spiritual Beggars organist Per Wiberg make it plain that Nest of Vipers is bigger than the band itself. A to-date career performance from Cedermalm doesn’t hurt either.
Let me not mince words: This shit is about as close as I’d come to ever calling anything “my jam.” However important I think a release like Nest of Vipers might be to the scope of Swedish underground heavy, foremost, I think it fucking rocks. When I had the chance to see Greenleaf play at this year’s Desertfest in London, I jumped on it immediately, and it proved to be one of the many highlights of that trip. Being fortunate enough to have some time to chat with Holappa there (as well as to see Truckfighters again, which makes any day a good day), I knew I wanted to get an interview going, if only to give myself another chance to nerd out about the record. The guitarist agreed, and at the beginning of June, the following discussion was conducted over Skype about Nest of Vipers, the scheduling complications that go into making Greenleaf happen at this point, the status of Dozer, the status of Dahli, recording with Lidén and much more.
Q&A in progress and photos from Desertfest London (click any to enlarge) can be found after the jump. Please enjoy.
Posted in Features on April 7th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
04/07/12 — 23.00 — Saturday — Hotel
Today was the day I decided to have it all. Maybe it was walking up High Street circa noon to hit Music and Video Exchange and buying a ham and cheese crepe for breakfast to go with my cup of coffee. Maybe it was the simple fact that for all the drinking I did yesterday, I wasn’t hungover in the slightest. Maybe it was just the entire galaxy of good music playing out the middle day of this fest. Whatever it was, I was on board today. All the way. Let’s go.
And go I did — or, I guess I went. Whatever. The schedule was packed today. Really. From the time I rolled into The Black Heart to the time I left The Black Heart — digging a certain symmetry in starting and ending each day at Desertfest‘s smallest venue, definitely — it was basically nonstop. Whereas yesterday I got to basically park myself at The Purple Turtle, at the expense of seeing Ancestors, but still, there was none of that happening this afternoon and evening. As the day wore on, in fact, it only got busier.
My major question was how the hell I was going to see everything I wanted to see. Orange Goblin, Black Pyramid, and Grifter all went on in 25-minute succession of each other, in that order. All three bands — and after a full day of rock. It wasn’t going to be easy.
As far as starts to the day go, however, I couldn’t have asked for something more mellow than an acoustic set from Deville. Frontman Andreas Bengtsson took the stage on his own, just him and a guitar. He was plugged in — Desertfest: “Where Even the Acoustic Guitars Run through Orange Stacks” — and he ran through a charming set of reworked Deville tracks, including “Lava,” which I recalled from their recently posted video for the song. Roadsaw frontman Craig Riggs and I would have an interesting conversation later about how much videos matter again now, but watching Bengtsson perform, there was clearly more to his songwriting than a funny video could convey. I don’t know the name of the last song he played, but it was a classic Kyuss riff, and hearing it through an acoustic was like finding a copy of Paranoid in a museum. Read: just right.
There was a 40-minute break between Bengtsson and the next band at The Black Heart, which was Steak, so I made use of the time and went across the street to The Underworld to check out some of Shrine ’69‘s set. They were young, but heavy, and no one told me, but apparently giant embroidered v-necks are the new t-shirt and jeans. Fair enough. I was more into the UK natives than I thought I’d be just going by their name, and I picked up their CD to give it a listen later on, figuring no time like the present, and contrary to what I told the French lady who sold me my breakfast, it’s not every weekend I’m in London. Shrine ’69‘s crowd knew them better than I did, and I was glad to default to the judgment of the masses on this one. Helped, I suppose, that I agreed with them. Another quality UK band to add to the seemingly endless list.
Also local, Steak drew a large crowd back at The Black Heart. I had bought their EP yesterday without knowing who they were, and only later found out that the band includes Dan and Reece from DesertScene, who organized the fest. They were solid heavy rock, self-aware stoner, and they proved yet again one of the things I’ve always most enjoyed about this kind of music — the people who are into it, do it. Seeing these dudes made me wish I didn’t live in the asshole of the world, considering the raw passion for what they do and the time and effort they were willing to put into putting Desertfest together across three venues in busy Camden Town, 50-plus bands over three nights. They’ve made it really easy for someone outside of this geographic scene (like I am, despite having people in it I consider friends), to be jealous of it, and they rocked besides. Can’t ask for more than that.
I’d seen the Roadsaw dudes around, shot the shit for a while with drummer Jeremy Hemond, bassist (and Obelisk columnist) Tim Catz, the aforementioned Mr. Riggs and guitarist Ian Ross, and I was looking forward to their set at The Underworld. Not because I’ve never seen them before, but because I knew this was a special show. It was special for me just being here, so I figured being that dudes from basically the same region I’m from (at least relative to London), who flew out just for this show and then were set to fly back home, they’d be really into it, and Roadsaw did not disappoint. Awesome to look by the side of the stage and see the Orange Goblin guys showing respect, and awesome to see Roadsaw throw down. They played a couple tracks off their Desertfest EP, which they were also giving away on CD free of charge — I took two — and “Thinking of Me” and “Long in the Tooth” off the self-titled (review here) were highlights. I’ll have to see if they’re playing at all in Boston come June or July, because as I stood and watched them tear through these songs, it occurred to me that I’ve never seen them on their home turf, and that’s something I should probably get on remedying. They did New England proud.
Sungrazer was on next, so I stayed put at The Underworld. This was my second time seeing the Dutch natives, who were a highlight of Roadburn last year and who I really consider to be the future of fuzz. Sander Haagmans‘ Rickenbacker rules all. If Sander Haagmans‘ Rickenbacker was running for US president as a republican, I would go against my beliefs and vote for it, because it’s just that awesome. But you know what? Sander Haagmans‘ Rickenbacker wouldn’t run as a republican, because it’s warm and inviting and progressive and doesn’t give a shit if gay people want to get married. It’s fucking great, is what I’m trying to say. His and guitarist Rutger Smeets‘ tones were dead on. They opened with “If” from their 2010 self-titled (review here) and went directly from there into “Octo” from last year’s fabulous Mirador (review here), but what I was really hoping for came later, with the new song “Dopo.” When I saw them last, they played a couple Mirador tracks, and with the acknowledgement that one live listen is no real basis for judgment, I’ll say it seems like they’re going even further into their meandering heavy psych, leaving behind some of the Colour Haze-type influence and doing more of their own thing. Maybe that’s me reading into it, but that was the impression I got, anyway, and it made me excited to hear what they do on their next record. They finished with the Fu Manchu-worthy fuzz of “Common Believer,” which of all the songs I heard today from all the bands I saw, is the one still stuck in my head.
There was a little time before Alunah were set to go on at The Black Heart, but I made my way over there early to get a spot up front. Grabbed a beer and bought a copy of Alunah‘s Call of Avernus before they took the stage, which they did following some technical difficulties with bassist Gaz Imber‘s amp. The troubles were short-lived, though, which I suppose is one of the benefits of having your fest sponsored by Orange — an awesome-sounding replacement for whatever’s broken is never far off. They were cool, unpretentious riffy doom. Vocalist/guitarist Soph Day had the crowd eating out of her hand, and the whole band seemed right at home both with the audience and in the venue. I’m still reminded of Acid King by Day‘s echoing vocals, but that’s hardly a complaint in my mind. Their next record, which will be their first for PsycheDOOMelic — apparently titled White Hoarhound — is one to look forward to. Like Grifter who would play later, Alunah seem to be coming of age as a band and it was exciting to watch. Valient Thorr was on at The Underworld, and I heard later they were great, but seeing Alunah play under their psychedelic lighting effects, I felt like I was right where I needed to be.
This is where things got really tricky. I’d worked out the rest of the evening so that the order of bands was going to be as follows:
Truckfighters at The Underworld (18.30-19.15) Dopefight at The Purple Turtle (19.15-19.45) Church of Misery at The Underworld (19.45-20.30) Orange Goblin at The Underworld (21.00-22.15) Black Pyramid at The Purple Turtle (21.25-22.25)
and Grifter at The Black Heart (21.50-22.50)
I wouldn’t get to see Serpent Venom or Slabdragger, but this way I felt like I was maximizing the amount of bands I’d see, catching the headliners where last night I didn’t, and still getting back to the hotel in decent time to write about this massive fucking day. Obviously I didn’t see everyone’s set front-to-back, and there was one point where I left The Underworld after Church of Misery thinking Black Pyramid was going on immediately only to find I wasn’t that far into the schedule yet, but basically this plan worked, which I guess is why I felt so victorious as I started this review.
Though I guess it would be hard not to be stoked on any night watching Truckfighters. Yes, it was my third Truckfighters show in a month’s time (see here and here), but as soon as Dango started up the “Desert Cruiser” riff, The Underworld went off. Heads were banged, fists were pumped, fuzz was thick, and where they had been relatively subdued in Manhattan, the Swedish trio pulled no punches for Desertfest. It was intense, heavy desert rock. They followed “Desert Cruiser” with “Monte Gargano,” and at that point, there was no turning back. Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm showed no wear for the set he did last night fronting Greenleaf at The Purple Turtle, and as ever, their energy was infectious and they brought the crowd along with them via killer grooves and some of the finest stoner riffing to be found the world over. Desertfest was perfect for them and they were perfect for Desertfest.
It killed me to leave, but Dopefight awaited. The British trio were one of the native bands I was most excited to see (seems like I say that for every native band, but it’s true), especially after their debut, Buds, found such favor late in 2010. Knowing their modus of “slow riffs first, then punk out with vocals,” I assumed it would take them a little while to get going, and it did. They played an instrumental intro before unleashing a few cuts off Buds and a new song from their upcoming split with Gurt. Good times were had. Much like Alunah and Steak earlier in the day, the crowd knew Dopefight and had pretty clearly seen them before. I hadn’t, and they killed. “Specimen” and “Nob. Nod. Noi.” made sure I didn’t go anywhere for the duration of their time on stage, though I’ll admit to getting a Newcastle and moving to the back of The Purple Turtle, as the day was beginning to wear on me. Nonetheless, Dopefight were every bit worth sticking through. I hope this isn’t the last time I see them.
Rumors were around that Japan’s Church of Misery had a new singer and guitarist, the latter coming on as a replacement for Tom Sutton, but lo, when I got back to The Underworld for the start of their set, there was Sutton himself. They did have a new vocalist since the last time I caught them, but as ever, Church of Misery delivered, Tatsu Mikami wearing his bass characteristically low-slung as he stood on the stage monitors. I don’t know who the new singer was — or, come to think of it, if it wasn’t in fact Hideki Fukasawa. He had the noisemakers going and the songs they played off 2009′s Houses of the Unholy (review here) sounded right on, but the stage presence was different, less manic and frantic. Less fake-shotgunning the crowd. It didn’t matter to the crowd, who were dead into it from the outset. It seemed like they didn’t play long, but I guess it just went quick. Either way, they’re touring Europe this month, playing Roadburn next week, and then heading to the States for a cross-country run that includes a stop at Maryland Deathfest at the end of May. Whoever’s in the band, they seemed ready.
Hometown heroes, Orange Goblin made for an especially cool headliner for the first Desertfest Saturday night because in no small way they’re responsible for influencing the current British scene. From Grifter, with whom they’re touring, to the likes of Desert Storm who play tomorrow, Orange Goblin — on the road supporting this year’s excellent A Eulogy for the Damned (review here) — are the statesmen of this scene, and though they’re as raucous as ever, they play the role well. The setlist was amazing. “The Fog” and “Stand for Something” off the new one, plus “Scorpionica” for an opener, “Some You Win, Some You Lose” and a rendition of the anthemic “The Filthy and the Few” that they brought out Craig Riggs from Roadsaw to join Ben Ward on vocals. I know it hasn’t been that long since they were last on my home shores, but I really hope Orange Goblin get to do a US tour for this album. The songs are so tight and crisp, but still rougher live than they are on the record. I’d love another shot at checking them out. You’ll note the headline for this post comes from “The Ballad of Solomon Eagle.” No coincidence there. Orange Goblin were a high point of the weekend.
In fact, I probably stayed at The Underworld longer than I should have, because by the time I got back down the road to The Purple Turtle — a 10-minute walk, basically — Black Pyramid was already well into “Mercy’s Bane” and the room was full. I’d heard a lot of people say they specifically wanted to see them, and I guess since the whole of Desertfest was running a little early, I just mistimed it. I stayed for a little while and grooved out for a couple minutes, and was glad for their success here as I was last year seeing a different incarnation of the band kill it at Roadburn, but soon enough I was back out the door and on my way north (was it north? Felt like north, but it was uphill, and I’m no judge, so take that for what it’s worth) to round out the night at The Black Heart, not before buying a copy of Serpent Venom‘s Carnal Altar album from their merch table in its awesome weirdo packaging. My camera bag was starting to weigh down my shoulder from the heft of the day’s acquisitions, but if the worst that comes of it is my arm falling off, I can’t really say I lost out.
Though by the time Grifter were getting ready to roll, I was tired and I could feel myself being tired. For a soundcheck, the three-piece jammed out a bouncy, low-key riff — it reminded me of something Asteroid might have extended for another six or seven minutes the night before in the same room — and inadvertently hooked the crowd, so that when they stopped, the room erupted in cheers. It was awesome, though kind of a bummer they didn’t just pick up from there and keep going. There were still a couple minutes before their set actually began, but when it did, it was worth the wait. Like last year’s Ripple Music self-titled full-length (review here), the live show showed them as a no bullshit heavy classic rock band. They played a couple older songs off their first EPs, which were well received, and were a cool way to finish up the night. I think a lot of people had gone off to the pub or decided to call it quits on the evening, but those who stayed for Grifter were definitely rewarded for the effort. I did, anyhow. Their set was like the destination I’d been running to all day, and I suppose it was. I’ll be honest: I didn’t make it through the whole thing, with time wearing on and knowing this was going to be the giant slab of probably typo-laden copy it has turned into. As as been the case many times so far this weekend, though, I was glad I saw what I did.
Tomorrow’s Easter — Happy Easter, if that’s your thing — and I think the whole town has the day off, but Desertfest rolls on. It’s the last day, and way more relaxed than was today (no doubt in my mind that was a purposeful move on the part of the DesertScene crew), but I’m still looking forward to seeing the likes of Wiht‘s last show ever, Leaf Hound and Samsara Blues Experiment, so as soon as I can, I’m going to crash out. It’ll probably be another hour or two of putting together the photos for this post [NOTE: No such luck. Post went up at 04.58), but whatever. I got takeout Indian food for dinner and am feeling strong as a result. Days like today, if they happen once, you’re lucky. I’m exhausted, and sore, and I don’t know if I’d call myself “lucky” — something about doing so just makes me think a piano will immediately fall out of the sky and land on my head — but “fortunate” definitely applies.
Posted in Reviews on March 20th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Seems a bit excessive to do a second full live review for The Midnight Ghost Train and Truckfighters in two days, though I’ll admit to wavering back and forth on the idea before finally settling on this as a compromise. The show, held at Piano’s in one of Manhattan’s several no-one-can-afford-it playground neighborhoods, SoHo, was an afterthought to the tour — a secret Tee Pee Records-sponsored gig featuring the two touring acts and NYC’s Mirror Queen opening up. I’d heard about it Friday and, the familial obligations that kept me from Brooklyn having been gladly and dutifully fulfilled, knew it wasn’t something I wanted to miss.
A few general observations before we get into the band-by-band: Everyone was tired. Apparently Brooklyn had been a bit of a to-do. End of the tour, that’s to be expected. Nevertheless, there was a plague, and it was called “hangover.” Not even La Otracina‘s Adam Kriney, who was in attendance having played the night before, was spared.
Also, the crowd was minimal. To me, that’s ideal. It was a free show, a secret show, and to my estimation, it was likely happening because Mirror Queen guitarist Kenny Sehgal wanted it to happen. Sehgal‘s involved with Tee Pee and Mirror Queen grew out of his former band, Kreisor (formerly Aytobach Kreisor, if you’re up on your NYC heavy lore; I still can’t pass by without missing going to shows at The Continental), so it’s not unreasonable to assume he put it together.
In any case, I was glad I had the chance to see Truckfighters and The Midnight Ghost Train again, and I’d yet to catch Mirror Queen since their debut, From Earth Below came out last year — on Tee Pee, of course — so they seem a good place to start:
There had been an earlier show in the Piano’s back room, and the start time was listed as 10PM at the door, but the “last” band went long and Mirror Queen didn’t get to start on time. No one seemed especially put off by it, and I wasn’t nearly as perturbed by that as I was by the fact that I’d been hit up for cash at the door for a free show. When I went back to talk to the guy sitting at the desk at the door after confirming that, indeed, there was no cover, he was gone. Welcome to Manhattan. Anyway, Sehgal (above) led the charge in Mirror Queen, joined on guitar by recent NYC transplant Thomas Bellier of Blaak Heat Shujaa and Ehécatl, and also serving as the vocalist for a surprisingly subdued set of classic-style heavy rock. It was a similar vibe to watching John Brenner and Against Nature on stage, where it rocks, but it also kind of calms you down. Sehgal laughed at one point that he was going to play really quietly — perhaps he’d been taken by the aforementioned plague — and indeed his guitar was somewhat out of balance with Bellier‘s, but the songs carried warm, laid back vibes and were familiar enough to get their point across. Bassist Roman and drummer Jeremy O’Brien (also formerly of Kreisor) made for a solid rhythm section, and they finished off with a cover of Captain Beyond‘s “Mesmerization Eclipse,” so I had no complaints whatsoever.
The Midnight Ghost Train‘s Steve Moss had his mother and fiancée in attendance (you could tell who they were because they were ladies, and though I didn’t say hi to either of them, they seemed lovely; Moss could be seen dancing with his betrothed after the band’s set), so what already was perhaps a special night for the circumstances that brought it about had another level of emotional involvement for the singer/guitarist. They were the only band of the three not confirmed to yet be working with Tee Pee in some capacity, but it wouldn’t really surprise me if the label was convinced by their performance to bring them on board for their next album. They were tight and crisp, but still really open sounding, and bassist David Kimmell (above) locked down thick grooves with drummer Brandon Burghart just as they’d done in Philly Friday night while Moss went off on raving bluesman rants, barely decipherable through the substantial Piano’s P.A., but no less entertaining for that. His energy level was probably closest of anyone’s to what it was at The Station, and the set once again made me hopeful for what they might be able to accomplish on their next album. I don’t think I was the only one they impressed, either.
Understand that when I say “everyone was tired,” that doesn’t necessarily mean Sweden’s Truckfighters didn’t still put on one of the most energetic sets of desert rock I’ve ever seen. They started off with guitarist Niklas Källgren (above) running to the front bar of Piano’s in an effort to push people to the back, all the while playing the opening riff to “Desert Cruiser” through his wireless setup. That was a fair bit of brilliance, and somewhat effective, but while they may have started out in similar fashion in Philly, the setlist took a different turn, setting crowd interaction off more atmospherics with “Kickdown” and extending the jam in “Monte Gargano” in a way that seemed to surprise even bassist/vocalist Oskar Cedermalm, who nonetheless had no trouble giving Källgren the necessary room to roam, physically or musically. Heavy-smoking drummer Oscar Johansson, once more in his skivvies, sounded especially good, and though the recent documentary about the band paints him as somewhat unreliable and perhaps less dedicated to Truckfighters than Cedermalm or Källgren, it was plain to see why they remain dedicated to him, and though they didn’t jump around as much — they still jumped around plenty — as they had two nights earlier, I relished the chance to watch them play what was at times a more subdued set and see the adrenaline overtake them near the end of “Helium 28″ from their 2003 split with Firestone and even more so “Chameleon” from 2007′s Phi, which made for a super-thick closer. As it would be the last song they played in America this go around, its build and payoff were utterly engrossing to the point that, even after all the Truckfighters I’ve been hearing lately, I still broke out the track to listen as I wrote this.
There was a point after they finished at which I looked up at the clock, saw it was 1:30 in the morning, and said “holy shit” out loud. I was talking to Bellier about some of his upcoming projects, etc., and the full weight of the work week that would ensue whether or not I was ready hit me — hard. Not five minutes later, I was out of Piano’s, back around the corner to the car and en route to sit in Holland Tunnel traffic. Gotta wash that tunnel every night or it might not sparkle.
Hey, at least it creates jobs. The Patient Mrs. was long since asleep when I got in, about 90 minutes later, and I commenced staying up until five for no good reason, trying to blind myself to the notion of needing to be up for work at eight, and ultimately failing. But seriously: Truckfighters. I’m proud to say I’ve seen them three times now and it’s been worth the loss of sleep for each show. This one was the same story as the last one — no regrets whatsoever.
Posted in Reviews on March 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
The decision to hit Philadelphia instead of Brooklyn — which had been the plan all along — was made the night before. There was the looming prospect of family in from out of town (who would arrive Saturday afternoon) and inevitable obligations stemming from that which skipping out on would almost certainly result in my being seen as a complete jerk. “Here’s your seven-week-old baby back, I gotta head to Williamsburg.” Shit just doesn’t fly.
So, instead of that, Philly on Friday. It was two hours in the car each way, but Brooklyn probably would’ve been that too — especially if they were giving the Holland Tunnel its nightly power-washing — and there was the added advantage of not having to park in, or be in, Brooklyn on a Saturday night. I left work early — the excuse was another bonus — and headed south on the Turnpike like a man on a mission.
Perhaps that mission was a little too successful, because I was early as hell. The enthusiastic dude at the door of The Station, which was playing host to touring acts Truckfighters and The Midnight Ghost Train as well as local support Skeleton Hands and The Company Corvette, recommended hitting the South Philly Tap Room down the block for dinner and pre-show boozing, and even unadvertised mustard on my hamburger didn’t stop it from ruling. The place was packed, and it was chilly eating outside, but several Kenzingers helped me pretend it was summer and not, you know, still the middle of March.
Reports that The Station allowed smoking inside turned out to be true, but when I got back to the two-level venue — one bar a few steps up from another where a stage-less performance space was cleared out — that didn’t stop me from saying “fuck yeah” out loud. It was going to be close quarters and a late night, but that’s exactly what I was looking for. In short order, The Company Corvette got going and the night was under way.
I knew literally nothing about the Philly natives going into their set, but they were a good start to the show, proffering straight-up, still developing stonerisms in good working order. They seemed to be still finding their path, musically, but I like that in bands, so I was into their riff-led Sleep-y grooves. Curious that later, someone (obviously drunk, and it wasn’t someone actually from the three-piece) took it on themselves to try to put a logo sticker on Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm from Truckfighters‘ bass while he was playing it, but it was that kind of night. Smoky, drunk, riffy. Philly is a rock and roll town. That kind of shit happens there.
Between The Company Corvette and Skeleton Hands, who were more directly derived from the Southern heavy tradition, the City of Brotherly Love gave a pretty decent showing of its stoner scene. There were probably bigger bands who could’ve been on the bill — Sadgiqacea come immediately to mind, though they’re less directly in the genre; and I think Clamfight only played five shows last week, so they could’ve hacked another — but it seemed like both of the openers had, at one point or another, legitimately taken a cue on some level from Truckfighters, and that’s always encouraging. Skeleton Hands, for what it’s worth, also had probably the biggest crowd of the night.
Vocalist Pete Hagen laid it on thick with the post-Alabama Thunderpussy inflection, and like The Company Corvette, Skeleton Hands seemed to be in their formative stages, but they’ve obviously already made an impression if their draw is anything to go by. Being an out-of-towner (everywhere), I wondered a bit at times if there wasn’t something I was missing, but as Skeleton Hands hit the dense hook of their eponymous song, it was hard not to be consumed by the groove of it. They had CDs for sale with a “donation,” and I’d already gotten one before they played, but when they were done, I didn’t regret it.
How many years it had been since the last time I saw The Midnight Ghost Train play, I’m not entirely sure. I remember, vaguely, the show was in Bayonne, in Jersey, and I remember digging them a lot, but if you told me it was any date between 2006 and 2008, I’d have no choice but to believe you. In any case, guitarist/vocalist/madman Steve Moss got on the mic in Philly like a forgotten Ellwood, talking all kinds of indecipherable throaty jive about being on tour with Truckfighters and this and that. Hard to pick up what he was putting down, at least until the songs started. Then the mystery disappeared.
Not sure how to say it other than to say it, but they were killer. I know The Midnight Ghost Train‘s 2009 self-titled full-length (review here) was right on, but that was a different band entirely. In Philly, their sound was full, and exciting, and delivered with an energy that stood up to Truckfighters — which, if you’ve ever seen the headliners, you know is saying something — and their set, which was mostly comprised of new material according to the conversation I had with Moss afterward, was a stunner. Legitimately. I already knew I liked the band and they still caught me off guard.
Even when Moss busted a string on his guitar and had to get out a second one in the middle of the song — the name “Sophia” was stenciled on road case a bit to the left of the band’s logo — I don’t think bassist David Kimmell even stopped headbanging to look and see what was going on. They build up righteous momentum, Moss flailed his preacher’s hands as he ranted and raved, and the rock went epic. Drummer Brandon Burghart had his work cut out for him holding the songs to ground, but they never got out of control when they didn’t want to, and as a rhythm section, Kimmell and Burghart stood up to Moss‘ considerable barrage of riffs, leads and well-spit verses.
They reportedly start recording their new album tomorrow, March 20, in Georgia with one of the dudes from Harvey Milk putting them to 2″ tape. I’ll look forward to that, but in the meantime, I learned before Truckfighters went on that the two bands would be playing what was billed as a secret Tee Pee Records showcase in Manhattan on Sunday with NYC natives Mirror Queen opening, and was suddenly way less bummed out about missing the Brooklyn show the next night. The room had settled some during The Midnight Ghost Train‘s set as some of those who were only showing up for the locals had split and others had come for the touring acts, but if it wasn’t sold out, it’s only because they kept letting people into The Station. I grabbed a spot in front of the P.A. to stage right and waited.
You know, I had been a little bummed out seeing the reports and video coming out of this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas, last week. Lots of good bands, lots of good showcases, and for me, some pretty positive memories of years past, hazy though they are. With the first cycling through of the riff to “Desert Cruiser,” all that went right out the window. Drummer Oscar “Pezo” Johansson dropped trow — literally, he played in his boxers — and recently-interviewed guitarist Niklas “Dango” Källgren took off his shirt, and off they went.
Truckfighters are rock at the speed of go. It was only a few months ago I saw them rip a hole through Cake Shop in Manhattan, but seeing that only made this show all the more necessary. On a tour that in terms neither of routing nor personnel involved was what they thought it would be, Truckfighters flourished and hit with an astonishing level of energy. It was like they were pushing the material to see how far it could go, how hard it could hit, how fuzzed it could get. Where I stood, Cedermalm‘s vocals were coming through so loud at times they hurt, even with the sock he put over the mic (which, incidentally, is where that The Company Corvette sticker ended up) but it was worth it to be that close to rock that visceral.
“Desert Cruiser” wasn’t over before Källgren was rolling on the ground kicking his legs in the air, and their whole set pretty much looked like riffy calisthenics, though they’re probably also the most audience-minded act I’ve seen in this genre — in people’s faces the whole time, taking advantage of their wireless setups (which also adds some compression to their tonal crunch that they seem to use to their advantage) to walk through the crowd, and, in Cedermalm‘s case, jumping on the bar before the encore to ask everyone if they wanted to hear another song — so they made it work and the audience had no choice but to go along with them. Not that there was much resistance, but it would’ve been pointless if there had been, is what I’m saying.
The set was pretty well balanced, with three songs from 2005′s Gravity X debut, two from 2007′s Phi, and three from 2009′s Mania, which is set for North American reissue in May as Truckfighters‘ debut on Tee Pee, but though it was killer to hear “Last Curfew” and “Traffic,” and “Monte Gargano” was a crowd favorite, I was even more stoked on “Majestic,” the 13-minute Mania masterpiece the payoff of which was so huge as to serve as the high point of an already excellent set. I’d been hoping for “Con of Man,” which they didn’t play, but they hit “Analougus” from the 2004 Fuzzorama compilation, The Ultimate Fuzz Collection, as the first part of a two-song encore that finished out with “In Search Of,” which seems to be the permanent closer. Hard to argue with its position.
I don’t remember what time it was exactly when they finished, but I know I got back to my humble river valley at about four in the morning, so I’d put it somewhere close to two. If you’ve never had the pleasure, the middle of the night is the best time to drive on the New Jersey Turnpike, or any major highway for that matter, barring accidents or construction — neither of which was hit on the way back north — and though I didn’t sleep nearly as late Saturday morning as I’d have liked, I did have plenty to look forward to going into Sunday night’s secret show.