The amount I’ve written about it does pathetically little to convey just how much time I’ve actually spent listening to Young Hunter‘s Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain EP. Now available as a split cassette with Ohioan (review forthcoming), the three-song collection by the Portland-by-way-of-Arizona outfit boasts an atmosphere and unabashed emotional heft like not much else out there. Whether it’s “Welcome to Nothing,” “Trail of Tears” or “Dreamer,” the whole thing clocks in at about 18 minutes and it’s more or less become a part of my daily routine to make my way through what’s a rather intense sonic ringer going from front to back, “Dreamer” closing with a launch into a driving rush that still sends a chill up the spine. Take the fact that I’ve included songs in podcasts over the course of three months (see here and here) as a sign of the enduring attention the release has received. Its tracks have yet to stray far from my consciousness.
“Dreamer” is the shortest of the bunch, and its finale speaks best for itself, so I’ll let it, but as you make your way through the video you’ll probably notice that it’s just frontman Benjamin Blake without the rest of the band represented. Blake moved to Portland last year, and presumably — at least judging from the misty forest treetops at the end — the clip was filmed there. Last I heard, he was looking to get a new lineup together for Young Hunter, though in January, he returned to Tuscon to play a release show with the desert-dwelling lineup for the tape. I don’t know what the future of Young Hunter might be, or where it might be, but Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountainhits with a resonant strike and is even more assured than was the the band’s 2012 debut full-length, Stone Tools(discussed here). If you haven’t yet checked it out, the video is pretty clearly a budget job, but still gives a good feel for how the EP hits its apex. Not to be missed.
Posted in audiObelisk on February 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Among the six tracks on Portland, Oregon, foursome Satyress‘ impending self-released debut 12″, Dark Fortunes, “Soma” is something of a standout. Less doomed in pace than cuts like opener “Possession” and the darkly metallic title-track, it’s the shortest cut at just under four minutes, but makes up with its hook whatever it might lack in relative span in relation to the other songs, only one of which (“Spread Thin”) is under five minutes long. Propelled by the driving riffs of guitarist Billy Niletooth and the alternately brooding and soaring vocals of Jamie LaRose, “Soma” is a high point in closing out side A of the vinyl, which is set for release on April 9.
What the band do best across the length of the half-hour full-length is balance doom and heavy rock smoothly playing each off the other, so that “Soma” has a bit of presence to go with its catchy riff and swirling climax. Shades of fellow Portlanders Witch Mountain show up a bit on the preceding “Esta Noche,” but Satyress are by and large more raucous and less directly blues-doomed, the guitars showing interest in traditional metal while bassist Alex Fast and drummer York Francken further showcase an efficiency in songwriting in the ease of their transitions, from verse to chorus, slow to fast, and while there’s a pervasive sense of build, nothing on Dark Fortunesfeels out of place or miscued. “Soma” will no doubt ring familiar to those with some familiarity with Portland’s fertile heavy scene, but the song is a blast all the same, and as a sampling of Satyress‘ first outing, it accurately conveys the beginning of what seems like an already well under way creative evolution.
Get a taste of “Soma” on the player below, and please enjoy:
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Satyress will release Dark Fortuneson April 9 on 12″ vinyl, and will play the semi-finals of the Portland Metal Winter Olympics on March 20 at White Owl Social Club. More info at the links:
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
When I streamed Order of the Owl‘s In the Noon of the After Dayin 2012 (right here), I felt like I had a decent sense of where the Atlanta trio were coming from on their debut. Boasting former Zoroaster bassist/vocalist Brent Anderson in their ranks with guitarist Casey Yarbrough and drummer Joe Sweat, they hurled forth psychedelic lurch and crusty doom groove that made its business in leaning one side of genre against another while miring the whole thing in an obscure, far-back production. How does that account for a ripper of a track like “Wraith” or the acoustic interlude “Cope?” It doesn’t, and that’s just the point. Some acts simply refuse such easy categorization.
All the more reason to look forward to what Order of the Owl might have in store for their second release. They’re at work on it now in None of Your Business Studios and reportedly have four songs recorded as of this post. Whether that’s the entirety of the project or not, I don’t know, but we’ll probably have a better sense by the time Order of the Owl come north to play The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 this May in Worcester, Mass.
Until then, here’s a preliminary announcement off the PR wire and the Bandcamp stream of In the Noon of the After Day for a refresher:
Great news for the beaten down and downtrodden!
Atlanta based psych doom riff mongers, ORDER OF THE OWL, have entered None of Your Business Studios with Andrew Wiggins at the helm. They are recording brand new music to follow up their devastating debut, “In the noon of the after day”
The band featuring Brent Anderson (ex-Zoroaster bassist/vocalist), Casey Yarbrough (Guitars/vocals) and Joe Sweat (drums) is also gearing up for an early spring tour that leads them North to play a headlining slot on Eyes Of The Stoned Goat IV in Worcester MA.
Stay tuned for more info/details and also to order their debut…
Posted in audiObelisk on February 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
An upbeat hook, multi-vocal chorus, weighted low-end groove and classically swaggering riff permeate the charge in Million Dollar Fix‘s “Hoptical Illusions.” Whether or not the Calgary, Alberta, four-piece were aware that Blue Point Brewing of Patchogue, New York, actually makes an IPA called “Hoptical Illusion” (the singular as opposed to the song’s plural), I don’t know, but if it’s a penchant for wordplay, it extends to the title of the band’s new EP, Psychedelephant, as well. The four-song self-release is due March 11, and follows Million Dollar Fix‘s 2012 full-length debut, Billygoat, with a buy-us-drinks-ready 22-minute set that takes riffy cues from classic metal and adds a shuffle born of ’70s heavy but given an edge and sense of freshness that can only come from a new generation’s interpretation.
Guitarist/vocalist Logan Derby and lead guitarist Brad Weidlich are front and center. The structure of “Hoptical Illusions” — and indeed its compatriot tracks, the driving “Never Fight Her Flow,” stompingly poppy “The Crow,” and brashly stoner-fuzzed “Kill the Banker” — is straightforward, and bassist/vocalist Keegan Costella and drummer Jeff Shibby Smith do well pushing through with hairpin turns between verses, choruses and sundry bridges and solo parts, the whole EP ending up with an unabashed accessibility and listener-friendly take. My gawd, is it actually possible they’re enjoying themselves? And inviting others to take part in that enjoyment? In some kind of ephemeral celebration of existence that, while acknowledges its fleeting nature, nonetheless emphasizes the preciousness of the moment in which it and we exist? Like a gig? With beer? And loud amps?
It’s once again snowing here in the wintry hellscape of the Northeastern US, so while such ideas as positivity, creative energy and sharing in meaningful experiences with others seem utterly foreign and and if I’m honest a little terrifying to my perception, the vigor in “Hoptical Illusions” serves to remind that, yes, these things exist, however old and out of place the notions might make me feel. Million Dollar Fix, whose hometown release show is set for March 14 at the Palomino Smokehouse in Calgary, prove themselves to be more than capable songwriters on Psychedelephant, and showcase the malleability of heavy rock to demonstrate more than just the usual round of blues-derived misanthropy. In short, they’ve come to party. They’d like to party with you.
Get a taste of “Hoptical Illusions” on the player below, and please enjoy.
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Million Dollar Fix will release their PsychedelephantEP on March 11. More info and preorders at the links.
Posted in audiObelisk on February 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
You could call “Strugglin’” from I am the Albatross‘ forthcoming self-titled EP efficient not necessarily because it sounds so clean or its structure comes across so clearly. Certainly the hook is right there and plenty sharp, but even more than that, “Strugglin’” shows its down-to-business mentality in conveying such a wide swath of influence, moving in under five minutes’ time from Hank Williams-style country melancholy to all-out gypsy punk, resulting in a kind of spaghetti western speed rock that winds up held together even as it seems intent on tearing itself apart by an underlying quality of songwriting from the Austin-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Jesse Berkowitz, bassist/vocalist Giuseppe Ponti and drummer Marc Henry.
It’s not the kind of thing you hear every day around here, or anywhere else for that matter, and that ultimately was what appealed to me about the track, which as the title would indicate takes on hard times, drinking in motel rooms and the hope of their actually being another side. And not only does the song establish this wide stylistic range, but it builds smoothly from one end to the other, and when it’s at its tensest and most unbridled, the band shift into a waltz before cutting back to a solo and the last verses and chorus, even then keeping hold of the song which by then is full throttle with its fire and brimstone. I am the Albatross will self-release their debut EP on March 4.
Please find “Strugglin’” on the player below, followed by more info on the release, and enjoy:
I Am The Albatross – “Strugglin’”
“Strugglin’“ is the first single from the debut EP by the trio of Austin-based musical veterans that collectively form I Am The Albatross. The song begins as a stumbling, lost soul’s barroom lament before exploding into a blistering barn-burner, with a protagonist who dejectedly sneers at the hopelessness of the apocalyptic times he has found himself in. “Strugglin’“ propels itself forward on a high-speed, borderline polka, gypsy groove and eventually bursts into full on punk-rock fury.
“The song is an exaggerated expression of the feelings of imprisonment and tension that we all experience in times of financial and emotional insecurity. Everyone at some point in their life may find themselves trapped in a dark, windowless room (figuratively, hopefully), just searching for a crack in the wall where a tiny bit of light might be shining through,” explains band leader, Jesse Berkowitz. The debut self-titled EP from I Am The Albatross arrives on March 4th, 2014.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The more time I spend with Lightning at the Door, the late-2013 sophomore full-length from Nashville, Tennessee, psychedelic blues rockers All Them Witches, the gladder I am to have included it on my Top 20 of 2013. It’s an album whose appeal has only grown with a couple solid months’ worth of listens, and whether it’s the sparse pasture laid out by “The Marriage of Coyote Woman” or the unmitigated stoner chug of “Swallowed by the Sea” that follows, the band flows natural and tap into a heavy that’s neither overbearing nor pretentious, a bluesy feel emerging as much from the loose feel of their songs’ construction as from the smoky atmospheres within the tracks. It is an easy record to put on repeat.
For those of you like me who maintain an appreciation for physical media, the band had sold out of their first pressing of 100 CD copies of Lightning at the Door– I bought the last one; $10 for a sleeve, but I had to have it — but there’s apparently another batch available at their Bandcamp. Consider it a solid investment.
They seem to work quickly, so maybe it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that a follow-up release from Lightning at the Doorhas already been announced, but either way, the plan apparently is to record a live show (audio and video) set for March 7 at The Garage in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for a live vinyl and CD release. Beery rockers Tusker are also on the bill.
More All Them Witches is good news and for my part, I’m happy to have an excuse to post Lightning at the Door again. Do yourself a favor:
This is our next show. March 7th.
We will be recording a live album at The Garage in Winston-Salem, NC to be released on vinyl, cd and online.
Technically speaking, the limited-to-50-tapes Demo isn’t Green Dragon‘s first outing, though it is the North Jersey trio’s first on their own, their debut having been on a 2013 split tape with Purple Knights (review here). The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Zack Kurland, bassist Jennifer Klein and drummer Nathan Wilson released a video for an earlier recording of “Downflame,” which opens this cassette, late in 2012, but in the time since, they seem to have dropped the “The” from the front of their name and come further into their sound. Demo is exactly that: a rudimentary showing of what Green Dragon have to offer sonically, and its four songs — the aforementioned “Downflame,” as well as “Psychonaut,” “Earth Children” and “Book of Shadows” — strike with the urgency and exploratory feel of a band’s earliest going. So if it isn’t precisely their first release, it’s not far off.
Kurland, who was also in Purple Knights and Sweet Diesel , leads the trio’s charge in gritty riffs and blown out vocals. The tape repeats all four tracks on both sides, and altogether each side is just over 14 minutes long, so any way you go, it’s a quick look at Green Dragon‘s approach, which nestles itself somewhere between garage shuffle and doomly grooving. Klein and Wilson add a fervent swing to “Psychonaut,” pushing the song’s Motörhead-style riff into more swaggering territory as Kurland drawls out intonations that would be nearly indecipherable were it not for the included lyric sheets in both the cassette and CD versions of the release. They never get into the same kind of malevolent psycho-delic melodicism as Uncle Acid, but some of the sway in “Earth Children” and the guitar in “Book of Shadows” hint in that direction if presenting a ’90s alt-rock crunch, while “Downflame” shows more of a classic metal root, hitting its stride in Iron Maiden-style hits and gallop in its second half.
A steady underpinning of Sabbath influence serves as a uniting factor and whole the key is remembering that it’s a demo release, Green Dragon show off some sonic fluidity between the tracks as the feedback that ends “Psychonaut” fades out an into that which starts the rolling bass groove of “Earth Children.” It might be me reading into it, but the second two cuts feel more complex than “Downflame” and “Psychonaut,” with “Earth Children” pushing more into psych ground and hitting a fuller stride in the bridge after its second chorus, leading to Kurland ‘s repeating the line, “Earth children are free,” and “Book of Shadows” sounding altogether more patient and assured in its pacing. If those are earlier or later in terms of the songwriting, I don’t know, but listening to the demo front to back — and then flipping over to side two and doing so again — it’s easy to read a narrative of progression into the material. At that point, whether or not it’s there is a secondary consideration (though still relevant of course). You can hear it.
What that might mean for Green Dragon‘s progression remains to be seen, but the balance of elements they devise on Demointrigues as a solid demo should, and the gnarl in Kurland‘s guitar and Klein ‘s bass feels particularly suited to the compression of a tape, though I’ll say as well that both the CD and digital versions work with a little more frequency room to space out. Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure release. “You’ve just encountered a Green Dragon…”
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I was fortunate enough to get a taste of Mountain God‘s forthcoming single-track EP release, Forest of the Lost, seeing them in Brooklyn late last year. They’ll be playing the piece in full this April at the same venue, the Grand Victory, and they’ve slated a handful of other killer gigs as well for the spring, including O’Brien’s in Allston, MA, with Summoner and Second Grave and at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn with Syphilitic Lust. Not sure when they’ll record or if they already have, but I’m looking forward to hearing what the four-piece concocts to follow up on their 2013 demo tape, Experimentation on the Unwilling (review here).
The band sent show details and some background on Forest of the Lost down the PR wire:
Mountain God, the atmospheric doom band from Brooklyn NY, have announced a series of dates in support of their first album, “Experimentation on the Unwilling”. Since the album was released in July of 2013, it has been described as “moving forward irresistibly, often leaning into a rather hypnotic territory before another well placed riff shakes you out of your daze and gets you pumping your first again.” Their spring dates include gigs at St Vitus and the Acheron, and culminate with what should be a hellish show with fellow Brooklyn band Throaat, and Boston mainstays Summoner and Second Grave. A limited run of “Experimentation” cassettes will be available at each show.
In addition, Mountain God will be road-testing material for their new EP, tentatively titled “Forest of the Lost”. The EP is a concept record, consisting of a single song broken down into different movements. The diverse track twists and turns over the course of 20 minutes, focusing on the plight of a medieval village, whose children disappear into the night searching for proof of a local witch, all the while their parents engage in acts of depravity and debauchery. The EP, slated for a spring/summer release, is a melding of 60s and 70s psychedelics with the heaviness, crunch, and shattering riffs of traditional doom and metal. The band will be performing this EP at the Grand Victory on April 23rd, along with bands Jovian Drifts, We are all Savages, and Eidetic Seeing. This is the first time the song will be played in its entirety.
Upcoming Mountain God Shows: Thursday February 20 at St Vitus/Brooklyn NY w/Syphilitic Lust, Arsantiqva and Jotunheim Wednesday, March 5th at The Acheron/Brooklyn NY w/Mortals and Immortal Bird Saturday, March 22nd at O’Briens/Allston MA w/Throaat, Summoner, Second Grave Thursday, April 23rd at Grand Victory/Brooklyn NY w/Jovian Drifts, We are all Savages, Eidetic Seeing
Posted in Radio on February 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Stoner riffs and doomed vibes. Blown out amps and follow-the-nod vocals. A sample from Alucarda. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think Polish five-piece Bitchcraft are doing much that’s never been done before, but sometimes in this age of microgenre you just want something that shirks off the complexity in favor of beating you over the head with the things that made you love the style in the first place. Bitchcraft‘s self-titled is little concerned with nuance, but takes post-Electric Wizard unbridled Sabbath riff worship almost too the bone over the course of its four tracks and 32 minutes. Songs roll out in doomy lurch topped with Julia Konieczna‘s vocals in straightforward verses and choruses, and they never really get above what most would probably consider a crawl throughout “Not the One,” “Mouth of a Cave,” “Acid Dream” and “Stoned One” (spoiler alert: they’re all the stoned one), but they don’t need to. The two guitars offer some lead/riff interplay, but really, the crux of Bitchcraft‘s Bitchcraft is in the thick grooves and the hazy vibes derived therefrom.
“Not the One” is probably the catchiest of the bunch, but Konieczna‘s voice offers more variety on “Mouth of a Cave,” touching on some of the same early-Acid King melodicism that Alunah has so skillfully made their own. The production surrounding the vocals is rough, but no more than it should be. The bass still has plenty of thickness distinct from that of the guitar on “Mouth of a Cave” and the subsequent “Acid Dream” — the middle pair being shorter than the bookends at 7:43 and 7:18, respectively — though the fuzz in the two guitars seems to get even hairier on the third cut, which is consistent in pace but so sonically dense that at any speed it would still sound slow. It’s the kind of tone that, if you had to pee in a cup after hearing it, you’d fail the drug test. Later on, the roll gets bigger and badder on the way to smoked-out leads that set up “Acid Dream” as the high point (ha!) of Bitchcraft, but the fivesome rounds out with the nine-minute “Stoned One,” which earns its way through channel-panning feedback that soon enough looses a riff worthy of as much of the song as it consumes. Righteously stoned.
Bitchcraft get better and more consuming the more volume is added, and as their self-titled comes on the heels of a 2012′s Evil Thing, which was of similar length — I’d call Bitchcrafta 32-minute LP, two songs on two sides — they may well still be feeling out their sound, but if it’s a wall of rumble they’re looking to create, they’ve got that more or less set. Not a bad place to start if they want to kick into creative expansion, though when it comes to what they do here, there’s nothing that seems to be crying out to be fixed.
Check out Bitchcraft‘s Bitchcraftnow as part of the 24/7 stream on The Obelisk Radio and get a taste on the Bandcamp player below:
Posted in Reviews on February 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Second week in a row I’m trying this, since the universe didn’t seem to collapse on itself after the first one — unless you count how bad I fucked up lineups; they’re fixed now. Once again we cover some pretty wide ground geographically and stylistically (also alphabetically!), so let’s get to it:
Buddha Sentenza, South Western Lower Valley Rock
Released last year as their debut on World in Sound Records, the 14-track full-length South Western Lower Valley Rock is Buddha Sentenza‘s follow-up to 2009′s exploratory Mode 0909 (review here). The 46-minute outing from the German instrumental fivesome pairs longer pieces like the classic rocking “Arrested Development” (5:04) and prog-jamming “The Monkey Stealing the Peaches” (2:49) off of brief transitional interludes taking their name from letters in the Greek alphabet. I’m not sure what “A-B-G-D-E-Z-I” is meant to indicate — the tracks being “Alpha,” “Beta,” “Gamma” and so on — but they pair remarkably well with the other pieces, and the emergent feel is not unlike that of My Sleeping Karma‘s 2012 outing, Soma, methodologically as well as aesthetically. Perhaps the highlight of South Western Lower Valley Rockis its longest component, “Debris Moon,” which in just under nine minutes weaves nighttime atmospherics and heavy psych ambience into what’s still a subdued track, never quite paying off the tension it creates until the subsequent “Epsilon” shifts into the aforementioned “The Monkey Stealing the Peaches,” giving even more of a clue that Buddha Sentenza are working in a whole-album mindset, rather than thinking of South Western Lower Valley Rockin terms of its individual tracks. The album makes sense on this level, and on CD presents an immersive, linear listening experience that casts a deceptively wide stylistic berth between keyboard-infused krautrock worship, heavy rock and psychedelia, offering fluid motion from in less skilled hands could easily come across as disjointed elements. They make that My Sleeping Karma comparison almost too easy, but the interludes are ultimately essential in creating the flow, as the ease of movement between the desert crunch of “Tzameti,” “Eta” and Eastern-vibing closer “Psychonaut” underscores. Some of Buddha Sentenza‘s best moments are in playing styles off each other.
Chrome, Half Machine from the Sun: The Lost Tracks from ’79-’80
While the liner notes tell of their having been designated “too accessible” at the time, the 18 songs on Chrome‘s Half Machine from the Sun are still plenty weird. As the title indicates, the release is a compilation of yet-unissued cuts from 1979-1980, the era of Half Machine Lip Moves and Red Exposure for Chrome‘s key collaboration between guitarist/vocalist Helios Creed and drummer/vocalist Damon Edge and arguably the point at which that incarnation of the band’s far-out blend of proto-punk, New Wave, psychedelic rock and experimental pop was at its most potent. Sure enough, Half Machine from the Sun crisscrosses genres on an almost per-track basis, be it the weirdo electro stomp of “Looking for Your Door,” the space rock noise wash of “Morrison” or “Sub Machine,” which turns an almost manic drum beat into the foundation of an otherworldly guitar and vocal exploration. They can and will go anywhere, as “Charlie’s Little Problem” and the creeper keyboards of “Ghost” showcase, but if there’s anything tying Half Machine from the Sun(which is out through King of Spades Records following a successful crowdfunding campaign to have it pressed to CD) together, it’s the fact that nothing is tying it together. Tape loops, analog synth, bizarre vocals, structure out the window — and yes, this is still the “accessible” side of Chrome — these songs nonetheless leave any number of memorable impressions, even if that impression winds up in an overarching sense of “God damn this band was weird.” Gloriously so. Chrome, under the direction of Helios Creed, have reportedly been at work on new material, so maybe all the better to give fans advance notice via this collection, which provides 73 minutes of alternate universe brainfodder to sate the curious and the passionate alike. A fan piece, but a welcome one.
The self-released debut EP from New Jersey-based progressive black metallers Hercyn, Magda, arrives in a full jewel case — the pressing is limited to 100 copies — wrapped in twine. I guess that’s meant to take the place of shrinkwrap, and in that, it’s certainly a more natural-feeling option. Magda‘s namesake track is a 24-minute blend of Euro-doom melancholy, blackened gurgles, grand riffing and ambient weight from the Jersey City trio of guitarist Michael DiCiania, guitarist/vocalist Ernest Wawiorko and bassist Tony Stanziano. About the only thing holding back the EP’s organic vibe is the fact that the drums are programmed, which gives the complex, ambitious “Magda” a mechanical base for what’s otherwise a relatively human sound; the guitars are buzzsaw sharp, but not necessarily without tonal warmth, and particularly in blastbeaten stretches, one almost wants something less precise to go along with the rawness in those guitars, as well as in the bass and Wawiorko‘s vocals. Nonetheless, as lead and rhythm layers intertwine past “Magda”‘s midpoint, there’s beauty in the dismal and a sense of the potential in Hercyn to fluidly cross genre boundaries even more than they already are. That lead is well plotted and sustained, and tempo and chug vary as the song reaches and moves beyond its apex in the second half, with the band offering a bit of Enslaved and Woods of Ypres influence in the interplay of keys and strings. I don’t know if they’ll try to find an actual drummer — for a first release, Magdahardly seems half-assed in its presentation, so maybe this is it; I hear industrial is on its way back — but Hercyn have started with a work of striking intricacy, and prove wholly comfortable in the longer form. An impressive and hopefully portentous debut.
Acid fuzz like a field you could lay down and lose an afternoon in is the contraband trafficked by L.A. freakouts The Warlocks, whose amorphous sonic ooze is every bit in mirror to their lineup, which has seen no fewer than 20 cats come and go and stick around over the course of the last decade and a half. With guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist/bassist Bobby Hecksher as the core around which the eight tracks of the 40-minute Skull Worship swirl, the oft-shoegazing psychedelia isn’t given to complete chaos, but man, The Warlocks go way, way out and don’t seem overly concerned with how they’re getting back. Joining Hecksher for the adventure are guitarist JC Rees, guitarist Earl V. Miller, bassist Chris DiPino and drummer George Serrano, as well as Tanya Hayden, who stops by to add some cello to “Silver and Plastic,” which sounds like what I always secretly hoped Radiohead would deliver instead of the pretentious mopey schlock they put out until they decided they were too smart for albums or whatever. The Warlocks, who had a couple records out on Tee Pee before jumping to Zap Banana/Cargo Records for Skull Worship, at times call to mind the very, very British moments of Crippled Black Phoenix, but then the psychedelic wash of “Chameleon” or “It’s a Hard Fall” takes hold and the whole vibe is groovier, thicker, more multi-colored molasses, whatever other attitude it might convey. The album hits its stride just when you think it might start to drag, and the closing “Eyes Jam” sounds like its backwards cymbals, feedback and drones could just go on into perpetuity, like if the record never returned and the loop kept repeating. Some heady moments, but should be right on the level for those properly tuned in.
Immediately and throughout much of the duration of Polish psychedelic pop rockers The White Kites‘ debut LP, Missing (out on Deep Field Records), the vibe is Beatles. Lots and lots of Beatles, from the Sgt. Pepper-style organ circus swirl of opener “Arrival” on through the McCartney piano bounce of the penultimate “The Missing.” It is a 50-minute album, and much of the lighthearted atmosphere it creates stems from its modern interpretation of the legendary Liverpudlians in their psych era. Hard to rag on a band for digging The Beatles — it’s like yelling at a fish for breathing underwater. And as a seven-piece that includes flute, recorders, keyboards, citole, a variety of percussion, clarinet, ukulele and so on, The White Kites aren’t lacking for sonic diversity — vocalist Sean Palmer has quite a task in tying the album together — but as intricate and progressive as Missing gets, it’s still taking the Lennon/McCartney byway to get there. The corresponding songwriting team for The White Kites seems to be Palmer and bassist/keyboardist Jakub Lenarczyk (presented as Lenarczyk/Palmer), and they’re more than capable in their charge, but hints of early Pink Floyd and King Crimson seem to be waiting to emerge from “Turtle’s Back” and “Beyond the Furthest Star,” like they’re trying to get out and be more prominent in the band’s sound but are overpowered by the traceable poppiness. That doesn’t stop Missing from being enjoyable — unless you’ve never liked The Beatles, maybe — or “Beyond the Furthest Star” from being the highlight, it just means that The White Kites have room to shift the sonic balance should they choose to do so their next time around. Until then, impeccable production and imaginative arrangements throughout give an impression of a band just beginning their discovery.
Exploratory heavy rockers Space Mushroom Fuzz may have decided to call their second tape boxed set Back from the Past, but it’s actually comprised of some of their most recent material. The prolific Boston space/jam/heavy rockers led by Adam Abrams (also Blue Aside) self-released four full-lengths last year between April and December, and all four — Man in the Shadow (April), A Possible Paradox (August), Stealing Some Time (November) and Burning the Almanac (December) — are gathered here, pressed DIY in an edition of only 20 copies (I got number 4, as I hope everyone does who winds up with one) and sold on the cheap for $8 through Space Mushroom Fuzz‘s Bandcamp. At two bucks an album, it seems fair to call Back from the Pasta bargain even before one actually cracks it open and listens to the music, which upon play shows development over the course of the year and the band from the jammy sensibilities of their older material to a kind of garage space rock, Abrams a steady presence on guitar and vocals, as well as periodically working on drums and bass despite being joined in those roles by Clay Neely (Black Pyramid) and John Belcastro on drums, Scott Levine on bass for Burning the Almanac, and for a couple songs, Steve Melanson on saxophone.
More than anything, the mission of Space Mushroom Fuzz seems to be to weird out and have a good time. I can dig that. A studio project, that they’d have a slew of releases isn’t necessarily much of a surprise, and that there’s a glut of material doesn’t seem to take away from any kind of completeness in the songs — that is, sometimes when I band is geared toward putting out a lot of stuff, things can get rushed so they can move onto the next project. Abrams as the driving force of Space Mushroom Fuzz allows songs to develop to a natural point across these four albums, so that the layers of effects in “Gallopie” and “Wreckage” from Stealing Some Timeare as much a part of the atmosphere as the root riffs and verses (at least verses in the case of the latter, since “Gallopie” is instrumental). In addition, I don’t know if it’s just because there’s so much of it all right next to each other, but it’s easy enough to read a sonic clarity coming into focus from one side of the tape to the next. The albums are positioned such that side one of tape one is the oldest album, Man in the Shadow — still less than a year old — and it runs through so that side two of tape two is the newest, Burning the Almanac. Finding a narrative arc there isn’t hard, and by the time Burning the Almanac comes around andLevine has joined his bass with Abrams‘ guitar and Belcastro‘s drums, Space Mushroom Fuzz sound that much more like the full band they’ve become.
That seems to be something the band acknowledge themselves on Burning the Almanacopener “The Cosmic Evolution,” though if I’m to be completely honest, I’ll say it’s an evaluation I made after hearing the digital version of that record, because when I flipped the tape over to listen to side two for the first time, my player promptly made a feast of it. Technical difficulties on my part notwithstanding, Space Mushroom Fuzz continue to be somewhat elusive as an act, working around a center of space rock that’s off-center and feeling its way through an ongoing progression even as it results in more and more recorded output, but in cases like Back from the Past, it’s interesting to have them step aside from time to time and take a look at what they’ve done. Their prior tape set, Seeing Double (review here), worked similarly if not as expansively, and the compilation format suits the project. As a lead player and the figure devising these songs and directing their progression, Abrams presents a gleefully strange take on psychedelia, weaving into and through convention en route to something decidedly and purposefully different. One might expect Space Mushroom Fuzz to lead with their newest work and move backwards from there, but listening to it front-to-back, their being counterintuitive seems to be part of the fun.
Space Mushroom Fuzz, Back from the Past (Dec. 2013)
The desert continues to fascinate. Dual-guitar four-piece Tribesmen make their home in Coachella, California (never heard of it), and their instrumental approach definitely takes some cues from the airy tones of Yawning Man that one imagines are just floating by on hot, dry desert winds, but that’s not quite the end of their base of influence on their latest single, “Alpine.” A strong undercurrent of post-rock à la Russian Circles or, to keep with vocal-less acts, Explosions in the Sky, emerges as the new song plays out its five-minute course, the video featuring the band performing one at a time and then all together in the Coachella Valley Art Center with various projections on and around them. The guitars of Wilber Pacheco and Alec Paul Corral are a big distinguishing factor, coming together periodically for a wash of ringing echo when not exploring their own whims over the foundation made firm by bassist Leslie Romero and drummer Freddy Jiminez, and that gives a somewhat psychedelic feel, but in both their presence in the video and in the meter of the song itself, they show little tendency toward shoegazing.
While that’s the case for “Alpine,” it’s not universally true, as the dreamy sprawl of “Under the Ice” from Tribesmen‘s 2013 EP, Blue, demonstrates. There, Romero‘s bass plays an even more considerable role in providing the anchor around which the guitars wisp, but with “Alpine,” it’s more about the four members all working together on a singular linear build, Jiminez signaling a next stage in the takeoff at around 2:30 in with a steady kick-line where previously he’d been mostly adding to the ambience on cymbals and toms. A break to quiet atmospherics is answered with more fervent pulsating just before the four-minute mark, and what stems from there is where the post-rock element is really most evident, because instead of going for an all-out heavy payoff, they run a few rounds through a kind of indie boogie that comes as a genuine surprise with what precedes. Given the fluidity they’re able to craft, I’m inclined to think of stepping back from that kind of precipice as a conscious choice rather than a songwriting fluke on the part of a young band, but either way, it’s ultimately this restraint that winds up as the most lasting impression of the track.
Tribesmen have a couple singles and the EP available as pay-what-you-want downloads via their Bandcamp, and it seems fodder for an investigation. Post-desert rock? As I said, that part of the world continues to fascinate.
Posted in audiObelisk on January 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Pat Harrington of Geezer‘s slide guitar fits so easily in with The Heavy Company‘s bluesy push that on first listen to “State Flag Blues,” you might not even give it a second thought. It makes enough sense alongside the guitar and vocals of Ian Gerber, the bass of Michael Naish and the drums of Jeff Kaleth throughout the six-and-a-half-minute new single from the Lafayette, Indiana-based outfit that it feels like of course it would be there. It’s not obvious, Harrington being in New York and The Heavy Company being in the Midwest, but works really, really well.
“State Flag Blues” is the latest output from The Heavy Co., whose 2013 full-length, Midwest Electric (review here), found them refining blues-psych jams for loose grooves, not sloppy, but human. The new single builds on that, adds Harrington for the guest spot, and brings a newfound political edge to the lyrics. Gerber champions an anti-prejudicial stance and calls out Indiana governors Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence by name in the last verse:
Well, you ain’t my man, Mitch And Pence, you son of a bitch Keep your hands off of my Hoosier home ‘Cause I’ll tell you right now Even in my hometown We think your shit is getting old
It’s a particularly bold statement in a heavy genre that’s usually apolitical if not inherently conservative, but you won’t find me arguing either with the message or how well Gerber, Naish and Kaleth make it flow in the song itself. If it’s a one-time thing or a new direction, I don’t know, but it comes across with conviction and the band’s usual lack of bullshit, and the track is cool, so there you go. That’s about all I need to post it.
Find the song on the player below, followed by some words from The Heavy Company about its origins and a quote from Harrington about contributing slide guitar. Enjoy:
The Heavy Company, “State Flag Blues” (2014)
Every once in a while you have to shake things up a bit. That’s what State Flag Blues is meant to do. While most of our counterparts in the stoner/doom genre are focusing on wizards, dragons, and galactic travel, The Heavy Co. has decided that it’s time to use their music for change. Don’t get us wrong. We love talking about wizards, dragons, and galactic travel, but sometimes you have to get your head into the real world. Being the proud Hoosiers that we are, we figured we aren’t going to let a small minded agenda get in the way of the social progress that desperately needs to happen. Not only in Indiana, but in our country as well. It might not be the popular thing to do, but it’s the right thing. Coincidentally, with yesterday’s passing of musician/activist Pete Seeger serving as a poignant reminder, we hope this song finds its way to the ears of those who need to hear it the most.
We hope you dig our new tune. We also really appreciate Pat Harrington of Geezer for lending his bodacious slide guitar to the track. As we say around here, he’s good company.
Please tune in…
Says Pat Harrington:
When Ian asked if I was down to play slide guitar on a new THC track, I said yes right away. I was a fan of their last release, Midwest Electric and definitely relate to who the band is. We both tread in those waters between blues and doom, too heavy for the blues purists and not heavy enough for the doom purists, so I was more than happy to contribute what I could to a kindred spirit. The fact that it was a good ole fashioned protest song just made it all even cooler! It was a lot of fun to do and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Recently pared down from a four-piece to a trio following the departure guitarist/vocalist Liz Walshak, Boston heavy thrashers Rozamov will set out on an East Coast tour next month, beginning with a show Feb. 15 at Brooklyn’s The Acheron, where they’ll match wits with the mammoth plod of Eggnogg in what I can only imagine is a show that will test the structural integrity not only of that building, but of the sundry warehouse spaces sharing the block with it. Good bill, in other words.
Speaking of, Rozamov will be back up in MA and closer to home in May for Eye of the Stoned Goat 4. Details on that and more follow below, delivered with care down the PR wire:
Rozamov Announces February East Coast Tour Dates, Playing New Material
One of Boston’s most crushing doom exports, Rozamov have announced a run of East Coast tour dates beginning February 15th at The Acheron in Brooklyn, NY. Recently reborn as a more aggressive and pummeling three piece, the band has been hard at work on their most genre-pushing and crushing music yet and will unveil some of the fruits of their labor on this run.
In addition, Rozamov is offering their most recent EP Of Gods and Flesh for free download for a limited time on Bandcamp. Of Gods and Flesh was recorded at Q Division studios in Somerville, MA by AJ Peters (Summoner, Batillus) and self-released this past summer.
FEBRUARY EAST COAST TOUR 2/15- Brooklyn, NY @ The Acheron w/ Godmaker, Eggnog, Crushed 2/16- Washington, DC @ Velvet Lounge w/ The Osedax, Gholas 2/18- Columbia, SC @ Foxfield Bar w/ Darkentries & TBA 2/19- Atlanta, GA @ The Drunken Unicorn w/ Wolves and Jackals, Crawl 2/20- Savannah, GA @ Graveface Records 2/21- Raleigh, NC @ The Maywood w/ Corpse Mountain, Heron, Dreaded 2/22- Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter w/ The Osedax, Thrones of Deceit, Vorator 2/27 – Manchester, NH @ The Shaskeen w/ Vaporizer
5/3-5/4/14- Worcester, MA @ Ralph’s – Eye of The Stoned Goat w/ Order of The Owl, Sixty Watt Shaman, Summoner, Cortez, Phantom Glue + others
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Death might sound angry, but you can’t really say the same for Deaf Proof‘s forthcoming CD EP, which is due out March 1. Death Sounds Angry basks in heavy psych tones, catchy vocal lines and hypnotic repetition, all of which play out to fascinating effect on the 18-minute centerpiece of the three-track release, “Origin of Pain.” The German trio have had a couple demos out to this point, and Death Sounds Angry will be their first offering as a three-piece. They’ve made the whole thing available to stream via Bandcamp (player below), and as you can hear for yourself, the configuration seems to be working for them.
See and hear:
Deaf Proof “Death Sounds Angry” EP to be released in March
“Good things come to those who wait. We finally hold the (digital) end result in our hands: The Death Sounds Angry EP is finally done and will be available in march as download and hard copy (digipak).
We finished recording, mix and mastering a few weeks ago. It took Johannes (Kopfüber) some time to finish the the cover artwork, because he was very busy. But take a look at that piece of work! It’s great, isn’t it? We are completely stoked! We recorded three different songs with three different vibes.
Look out for the EP and our new merch in march! Prelisten at Bandcamp in its entirety!”
Deaf Proof is J. Fredo (v/g), JP (b) and Pedro (d). Deaf Proof plays psychedelic fuzz.
The Band was formed in late 2006 by Pedro (d), Holger (b) and Fredo (v/g), later reinforced by Til (g).
From that point of time they started jamming and working out their ideas. In autumn 2007 the band split up with guitar-player Til who was replaced by Phil. In early 2008 the band decided to substitute Holger and to search for a new bassplayer. But nevertheless Deaf Proof recorded their first demo that was released in April 2008. The bass on the demo was played by Phil. Deaf Proof found the new four stringer Angus in june 2008. In december the band unfortunately had to search for a new bassplayer again and in march 2009 JP joined the gang. Together they recorded a 2-track live-demo in july. The combo recorded the “Beyond the Orange Door Demo” from autumn 2009 till winter 2012 and released it in april 2013. In april Phil also left band, but Deaf Proof continue as three-piece.
Since 2010 the band did some local shows with amongst others Stonewall Noise Orchestra (Swe), Snarf, Basel (Ch) and the Small Stone Artists Abrahma (Fr) and Mother of God (Swe). In 2013 Deaf Proof will expand their live radius over whole germany and further.