U.S. Christmas Heading Out on Long Weekender

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Pretty bold move to even think about leaving your house in the Southeast in July, let alone get in a vehicle and do shows, but intrepid North Carolinian psych purveyors U.S. Christmas are taking on the task nonetheless. With Generation of Vipers in tow they’ll be facing the swelter head on, finding refuge in venues alongside the likes of Sons of Tonatiuh and Divine Circles.

Get your icepacks on:

USX To Tour Southeast US With Fellow Appalachian Act Generation of Vipers This Week

Appalachian masters of dark psychedelia, USX, will take to the road this week for a run of shows through the Southeastern US states alongside local brethren Generation Of Vipers. The five-city run begins on Wednesday, July 17th in Asheville followed by Athens, Atlanta, Savannah and Columbia through next weekend, the two acts to share the stage with Sons of Tonatiuh, Across Tundras and more throughout the trek.

Stated USX founder Nate Hall of the trek: “We are anticipating some good hot and sweaty shows with our good friends Generation of Vipers, Sons of Tonatiuh, and some cool new southern bands. We are hitting some of our favorite cities and it would be cool to see a ton of people come out. As always, we will play as loud and hard as we can. And we are LOADED with merch.”

USX Tour w/ Generation Of Vipers:
7/17/2013 The Boiler Room – Asheville, NC
7/18/2013 Flicker – Athens, GA
7/19/2013 529 – Altanta, GA w/ Sons of Tonatiuh, Across Tundras
7/20/2013 The Jinx – Savannah, GA
7/21/2013 Jakes – Columbia, SC

A six-pack of talented musicians, USX, having converted the name from their initial moniker U.S. Christmas, is a long-running and major element to the Neurot Recordings roster, with a plethora of LPs and other releases as well as Nate Hall’s maiden solo effort on the label’s roster. The latest USX studio effort, the epic The Valley Path, was released via Neurot in mid-2011, the expansive album consisting of one mammoth, nearly forty-minute track of esoteric beauty, showcasing the sextet’s uneasily-classified folk and psyche-driven rock at its most expansive yet.

U.S. Christmas, The Valley Path (2011)

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Nate Hall and John Baizley Join Roadburn 2013 Lineup with Acoustic Performance, Art Exhibition

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Something Roadburn continues to deliver year after year is a variety of performances you can’t find anywhere else. Whether it’s a curated set, or an exclusive full-album reunion — hello, Godflesh doing all of Pure — each year at Roadburn, chances are you’re going to find something in the lineup that you’ll probably never see again. A once-in-a-lifetime show, or at very least, something at its genesis point, just happening for the first time in Tilburg.

News came down a bit ago that John Baizley of Baroness and Nate Hall of U.S. Christmas were teaming up for a set of their bands’ material plus Townes Van Zandt covers, and it’s the kind of thing that, who knows what it might lead to, maybe nothing, but whatever comes of it, the beginnings will have been something that only Roadburn managed to make come together.

Dig the word:

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2013 PRESENTS JOHN BAIZLEY (BARONESS), NATE HALL (U.S. CHRISTMAS) + SPECIAL GUEST FOR EXCLUSIVE PERFORMANCE

We are elated to announce the exclusive performance of John Baizley (Baroness) and Nate Hall (U.S. Christmas) for coming Roadburn Festival 2013. Both will play songs of Townes Van Zandt as well as Baroness and other material from Nate Hall’s highly acclaimed solo record “A Great River”. John Baizley recorded his songs of Towns Van Zandt together with Katie Jones who will be performing with him and brings in some Violin, Cello, and other instruments as well.

John Baizley: “I am thrilled to be coming back to Roadburn to perform this year, it has been one of the supreme highlights of European tours in the past years. Roadburn is a refreshing change of pace amongst the turgid waters of European heavy-music festivals, many of which have gone the way of rampant commercialism. Roadburn remains one of the good-guys, a volunteer driven effort purely for the love and devotion to music. Earlier this year, My Proud Mountain label approached me about contributing some tracks to the second “Songs of Townes Van Zandt” covers collection. I will be sharing the stage at Roadburn this year with some of the other contributors from that upcoming release. While Baroness is preparing to resume touring, I am excited to come to Tilburg and play music that our audience may be unfamiliar with me performing. I have always been an admirer and devotee of Townes, and I hope I can come and do some of his songs justice. This will be a unique opportunity for me, as I will be holding an exhibition at Gust van Dijk Gallery in Tilburg as well.”

Nate Hall: “I have known John for years now, and we are both excited about this show. I love playing solo, and I love collaborating with my friends. I’m sure this show will be special, and will bring out the best in both of us.”

The performance is scheduled for Thursday April 18 at The Patronaat during Roadburn Festival.

JOHN BAIZLEY ART EXHIBITION ANNOUNCED

SEA Foundation in cooperation with Roadburn Festival are proud to announce: “The Virgin Spring: the Process and Work of John Dyer Baizley”. An exclusive John Baizley exhibition at gallery Gust van Dijk in Tilburg.

This will be Baizley’s first ever exhibition in Europe which will be dedicated to his process as an artist as well as a presentation of images and printed work from the past and present.

John Baizley says: “I am excited to have been given an offer to exhibit my work for the first time in Europe at Gust van Dijk Gallery in Tilburg, Netherlands this April in conjunction with Roadburn Festival. It will be the first time many of these works have been shown in public, and the show will offer a brief glimpse into my process as an artist. I’ll be giving a small presentation on the images as well, and showing a few examples of my printed work. Furthermore, this will be the first time many of these images have been seen outside their commercial context (without logos, text, or barcodes) as I’ve always believed they were meant to be seen. This is a very unique opportunity for me, as I will be showcasing a set of music at Het Patronaat stage at Roadburn Festival 2013 as well.”

The exhibition will be held from April 18 – June 1
(opening Thursday April 18 from 16-17hrs/ 4-5pm CET)
At
Gallery Gust van Dijk, Home to Contemporary Art,
Tivolistraat 22, 5017 HP Tilburg, The Netherlands
www.seafoundation.eu/Programme.html

Background info John Baizley:

Known by most as the singer and guitarist for the acclaimed band Baroness, John Dyer Baizley is also an accomplished fine artist. Responsible for nearly all the artwork and graphic design surrounding Baroness, John has also created memorable album art for bands such as Kvelertak, Kylesa, Gillian Welch, Torche and many others. Combining Art Nouveau influences like Alphonse Mucha and Aubrey Beardsley along with an encyclopedic knowledge of primitive mysticism, Pagan rites and Jungian archetypes, John arrives at a very different place with his album design than has been typically expected from the world of extreme music like Heavy Metal and Punk rock. While still embracing the seminal teenage icons like Pushead and Raymond Pettibon, John has created an alternative dialect of imagery with his work, taking us the viewer on a new path.

Roadburn Festival 2013 will run for four days from Thursday, April 18th to Sunday, April 21st, 2013 (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue and Het Patronaat in Tilburg, Holland.

Tickets for the Roadburn 2013 Afterburner are still available: http://www.roadburn.com/roadburn-2013/tickets

Please visit www.roadburn.com for more info.

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Live Review: Mike Scheidt and Nate Hall in Philly, 07.22.12

Posted in Reviews on July 24th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve never encountered a city I’ve wanted to live in as much as I want to live in Philadelphia. This time, as The Patient Mrs. and I sat at the bar Abbaye and I ate a cheesesteak marinated in Chimay beer with roasted garlic aioli and drank a Yards IPA from a cask, the thought seemed even less realistic — like if we tried to get a place there, Philly itself would catch on and bar my entry. A pipe dream. Among many.

We headed down early to catch YOB frontman Mike Scheidt and U.S. Christmas frontman Nate Hall at Kung Fu NecktieThe Patient Mrs. coming out for a show is a rarity, on a Sunday especially, but it being a mostly acoustic night and it being Philadelphia — for which I think it’s safe to say she at least in part shares my affection — I was able to persuade. Hall and Scheidt had been in Brooklyn the night prior, but as I was at the Brighton for Halfway to Gone, I’d been unable to attend, though I knew from reading SabbathJeff‘s review on the forum that it was an early evening. That took some of the edge off the two-hour drive to get there.

It was just the two of them on the bill, so when I got to Kung Fu Necktie a bit before 8PM, I was early. Hall would go on first, at 9, and Scheidt would follow at about 9:35. They’d be done by 10:30, because at 11PM, a DJ was coming in for a late set. I guess that kind of thing happens. The Patient Mrs. and I sat at the bar and had a couple expertly-poured Boddingtons and enjoyed the dulcet freneticism of King Crimson over the Kung Fu Necktie P.A. The course of the evening would not be nearly as restless.

I’ve made no secret through the years of not being a fan of U.S. Christmas. Some bands just don’t click for some people, and it seems like no matter how much acclaim they get or however much on paper I should be so into them they could charge me rent, I remain stern in my position. I didn’t review last year’s The Valley Path and though it’s a friend putting it out, I’ll likely skip this year’s reissue of Bad Heart Bull as well. I’m sorry, but it’s not my job to like every band, and I’d sooner paint Williamsburg with my brains out the side of my skull than go back on something I’ve written without a genuine change of heart.

That said, earlier this year when I heard Nate Hall‘s solo debut, A Great River (on Neurot; track streaming here), I appreciated its sparseness and cohesiveness of atmosphere, and found Hall‘s ability to translate U.S. Christmas‘ ambient regionalism to a singer-songwriter context both impressive conceptually and an enjoyable listen. I liked it, to be clearer. And having liked it, I was looking forward to hearing how Hall would be able to bring those songs to life on stage. He did well.

Decked out in journeyman braids and a hat that, if you told me he’d stolen it from a museum I’d both believe you and be like, “awesome,” Hall ran through several of the tracks on A Great River. At times the reverb felt too heavy on his vocals — though that’s loyal to the sound of the album as well — but the a capella “When the Stars Begin to Fall” was nothing if not a bold inclusion, and he more than pulled it off, and “A Great River” was all the more powerful for the stripped-down, acoustic-only presentation it got, Hall‘s subdued, almost mumbled vocals sounding well within their rights to be tired beyond their years. He covered Townes van Zandt and brought Scheidt on for a song before closing out, and wrapped his short time on stage as unpretentiously as he’d started it, putting his guitar back in the case with his name spraypainted on it and walking to the back of the venue to sell some merch.

Two chairs had been situated on the Kung Fu Necktie stage, and the mics were already in position — and hell, by the time Hall was done, Scheidt had already been on stage playing as well — so there was no real changeover or anything like that between sets. Nonetheless, a short break felt natural. Apparently Hammers of Misfortune and The Gates of Slumber were playing nearby with locals Wizard Eye opening, and that may have cut into the attendance some, but there were heads here and there and The Patient Mrs. went so far as to laughingly point out shortly before Scheidt went on that she wasn’t the only lady present. It was true, though I didn’t know whether to congratulate her or what.

I’m a lucky man.

Scheidt‘s solo debut, Stay Awake, was pretty close in my mind after reviewing it just last week, but he, on the other hand, seems to have already moved well beyond it. Where the prior two times I’ve seen him do sets apart from YOB (in Brooklyn and at Roadburn), he’s barely started before he’s announced his inexperience in the form, this time he sat down and said, “I’m gonna do a few different things here,” thanked the crowd and immediately opened with two finger-picked instrumentals, unrepentantly folksy, and in the case of the second — which he shouted out to the teacher who taught him the technique back in Oregon — joyful. The surprises didn’t stop there.

From the album, which came out last month, he played only two songs — “Until the End of Everything” and “Stay Awake” – and both of them he delivered with a clarity and confidence (would be hard to call it “swagger” in the context of psychedelic folk) that even two months prior simply wasn’t there. Straight-backed, he projected his vocals when he wanted to project them, or otherwise slouched, leaning on his guitar at a few points like it might be the only thing holding him up. The spoken part introducing “Until the End of Everything,” which I singled out in my review of the record, he positively nailed, and in a bit of tour camaraderie, he returned the favor paid him and brought Hall back on stage for a song as well.

That gave the show a bit of symmetry, sure, but their cover of the Rolling Stones‘ “Dead Flowers” — they nodded to Townes van Zandt‘s version, which some might recognize from the final moments of The Big Lebowski – made for a fitting and charming apex for the evening, with Scheidt‘s take on “Stay Awake” serving as the closer for his set and final affirmation of how well and how quickly he’s adapted to solo artistry. Not only did he perform the song well, or deliver the lines effectively, but he had a palpable sense of enjoyment while he did it. Heads nodded to the acoustic groove — his riffs are his riffs, after all; that’s a hard impulse to fight and everyone there seemed to decide not to fight it in unison — and he successfully conveyed the emotional dynamics at the heart of the song: Frustration, persistence, fatigue, persistence, in cycle and simultaneous.

I wished him safe travels and bought a copy of U.S. ChristmasSalt the Wound 2012 reissue (I already had a physical copy of A Great River) and the Stay Awake CD from Hall before splitting. Sure enough, it was about 10:30. The Patient Mrs. and I were home by 12:15AM — which felt like the miracle work of a cosmos that wanted me to not be even more of a miserable bastard this entire week — and asleep no latter than I probably would’ve been anyway. Philly wins again. Philly always wins as far as I’m concerned. The show was even better than the cheesesteak, and for the evening, the company and the performance, a purer win than I’ve had in a while.

Extra pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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audiObelisk: Nate Hall Premieres “Kathleen” from A Great River Solo Debut

Posted in audiObelisk on March 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Whatever else North Carolinian pastoral psych specialists U.S. Christmas might have going on in their sound at any given time (there’s quite a bit when they want there to be), one thing they’ve always excelled at is infusing Americana elements into their work, taking the environment around them and distilling it to audio. Last year’s The Valley Path did that clearer and more evocatively than they’d ever done it before, and was precise and coherent in its mission.

As such, when A Great River — the Neurot Recordings solo debut from U.S. Christmas guitarist/vocalist Nate Hall — came my way, the first thing I listened for was that unmistakable tinge of mountaintop sepia. It’s not a country twang, but definitively of its place musically and even more specifically Southern in its melancholy. A Great River has that feel in common with Hall‘s band, and joins the ranks of highlight Neurot solo outings from Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till (both Neurosis) in its appreciation of classic folk, from Bob Dylan, whose influence shows up prevalently throughout, to a more stripped-down look at the brilliance of arrangement that has found a home in Wovenhand‘s David Eugene Edwards.

Foremost, the album is honest. Recorded in a single night last March, its “first album” feel is undercut by psychedelic flourish and the emotional depths Hall brings to the surface, and while there are still avenues of progression to be explored, a song like the Townes Van Zandt cover “Kathleen” — which I’m fortunate enough to be able to premiere on the player below — remains the beautiful and lush work of a singer-songwriter beginning what will hopefully be a long journey.

Please enjoy:

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

Nate Hall‘s A Great River is due out on Neurot in May. For more on the album (including Scott Kelly‘s take), check out Neurot‘s artist page here, or look up Hall on Thee Facebooks here. Special thanks to Earsplit PR, Neurot and Hall for their generous permission in letting me host this track.

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New U.S. Christmas Due September 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 30th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Speaking of bands heavily influenced by Hawkwind, the PR wire informs that North Carolina upstarts U.S. Christmas — who as I understand it are all the rage with the kids these days — will have a new album out on Neurot come September 20. I still consider myself in the “I just don’t get it” camp when it comes to these guys, but rumor has it they’ve got a whole new lineup, so maybe Run Thick in the Night is the record that’ll turn me around.

Here’s the latest:

Neurot Recordings is proud to unleash the latest full-length from psychedelic, high-volume blues rock ensemble U.S. Christmas on September 20. Titled Run Thick in the Night, the band’s fifth long player was recorded by Sanford Parker at FahrenheitStudio in Johnson City, Tennessee, mixed by Parker and USX members Nate Hall, Matt Johnson and Josh Holt at Semaphore Studios in Chicago, IL and mastered by Collin Jordan.

Run Thick in the Night track listing
1. In the Night
2. Wolf on Anareta
3. Fire is Sleeping
4. Fonta Flora
5. Ephraim in the Stars
6. The Leonids
7. Suzerain
8. Maran
9. The Quena
10. Deep Green
11. Devil’s Flower in Mother Winter
12. Mirror Glass
13. The Moon in Flesh and Bone

U.S. Christmas will kick off the weekend performing two special shows with Corrosion of Conformity before heading out on a handful of one-off performances in September throughout North Carolina including at stop at the Hopscotch Music Fest in Raleigh. The fest features countless artists from all genres including Weedeater, Harvey Milk and Public Enemy. Confirmed dates below. Further dates TBA.

U.S. Christmas live:
7/30/2010 Stella BlueAsheville, NC w/ Corrosion of Conformity (Animosity lineup), Zoroaster, Righteous Fool
7/31/2010 The Pour House Music HallRaleigh, NC w/ Corrosion of Conformity (Animosity lineup) Black Tusk, Righteous Fool
9/05/2010 Static Age RecordsAsheville, NC w/ Body and Enoch
9/11/2010 Hopscotch Music FestRaleigh NC
9/16/2010 Legitimate BusinessGreensboro, NC w/ Caltrop
9/17/2010 The MilestoneCharlotte, NC w/ Caltrop

U.S. Christmas is:
Nate
Hall – Guitars, Words, Vocals
Matt Johnson
– Synthesizers, Guitars, Sounds
Chris Thomas
– Guitars, Bass
BJ Graves
– Drums
Justin Whitlow
– Drums, Experimental Sounds
Josh Holt
– Bass, Drones
Meghan Mulhearn
– Violin

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U.S. Christmas, Minsk and Harvestman Meet the Master of the Universe

Posted in Reviews on May 14th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you’re wondering what might motivate three of thinky-thinky metal’s most luminous outfits – Steve Von Till’s Harvestman, Minsk and U.S. Christmas – to come together and put out a three-way split of 11 Hawkwind covers, the answer seems blindingly obvious: They all really like Hawkwind. Duh.

And with good reason, since that British band, who last year celebrated their 40th anniversary, are more or less the foundation on which multiple generations of space rock have been built and have had an unprecedented, unequaled influence on sonic psychedelia. Hell, I can’t even get through a space rock review without mentioning Hawkwind at least once. Why would Harvestman, Minsk and U.S. Christmas want to tribute to Hawkwind? Maybe the more appropriate question is “What took so long?”

What makes Neurot’s Hawkwind Triad unique, at least in a “Hey, we did something different” kind of way, is that the 11 tracks – divided four, four and three to U.S. Christmas, Harvestman and Minsk, respectively – aren’t divided by band. The Hawkwind Triad opens with U.S. Christmas, then follows with Harvestman, then Minsk, and so on, with no band ever having two tracks in a row (and Minsk bowing out after track seven) until the end of the album. The idea is that it should flow like a record instead of a three-way split, and it works in some spots better than others. But since they’re presenting the tracks in such a way as to mesh the three groups, I thought it might be fun to break them back up for a band-by-band review (the “prick” impulse strikes again). Observe:

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Just in Case You Forgot about Hawkwind, Neurot Recordings Has This Reminder…

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 31st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

…As if anyone could forget about Hawkwind.

I’m sorry, what was I talking about?

Oh, right, the new Hawkwind Triad that Neurot is putting out, with Steve Von Till‘s Harvestman project, Minsk and U.S. Christmas on it. Nifty. Here’s the PR wire summation:

To see official release this May via Neurot Recordings, the Hawkwind Triad album is a fitting tribute to the British band that somehow seems to simultaneously remain unknown to the majority of the world’s rock listeners, while also standing as one of the most influential psychedelic bands of all time.

The Triad is unique, as it is an album of covers by three separate artists that essentially flows like an album. Each band — Harvestman (Steve Von Till of Neurosis’ psych guitar based project), Minsk, and U.S. Christmas — have approached these 11 iconic songs with respect, but each have also recognized the need for the songs to be reinterpreted in a new space and time. The result is a full-length psychedelic feast that not only captures the feel of Hawkwind’s individual songs, but also has the feel of their classic albums. Even the artwork by Boston artist Thomas Saraceno appropriately provides trippy surrealist scenes fitting to many albums from the ‘70s. Most of all, the Triad was done out of pure veneration for a band than laid a solid foundation for every heavy, weirdo band that exists now — as well as for those who will freak out in the future.

Hawkwind Triad tracklist:
U.S. Christmas
– “Master of the Universe”
Harvestman
– “D Rider”
Minsk
– “7×7″
Harvestman
– “Down Through The Night”
Minsk
– “Assault and Battery/The Golden Void”
U.S. Christmas
– “Psychedelic Warlords”
Minsk
– “Children of the Sun”
U.S. Christmas
– “Orgone Accumulator”
Harvestman
– “The Watcher”
U.S. Christmas
– “You Shouldn’t Do That”
Harvestman
– “Magnu”

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