The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic Announce New Vocalist Brigitte Roka

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the ultra electric mega galactic

After posting some rehearsal-room pictures over the last couple weeks, Los Angeles-based The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic have made the official announcement that Brigitte Roka has joined the band as their full-time vocalist. Formerly the trio of bassist Collyn McCoy (also Sugarfly), drummer Rick Ferrante (also Sasquatch) and guitarist Ed Mundell (ex-Monster Magnet/The Atomic Bitchwax), The UEMG — as they’re mercifully abbreviated — released their Through the Dark Matter EP (review here) as the follow-up to their 2013 self-titled debut (review here), and while McCoy stepped to the mic on a cover of Willie Dixon‘s “Spoonful” on that shorter release, Roka marks the first standalone singer the band has had.

They have a couple shows coming up for the summer — I know I wouldn’t mind seeing them with Sun and Sail Club and The Freeks — and I’d expect some video or live audio to surface to give a sense of how their sound will have shifted with Roka on vocals, whether their space/acid rocking jams will solidify or stay as molten as they were on the self-titled, but as Mundell states in the announcement below, it won’t be until later this year that they hit the studio as a four-piece. It’s already on my most-anticipated-for-2016 list.

Word came in as follows:

the ultra electric mega galactic brigitte

The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic welcomes vocalist Brigitte Roka to the fold

Instrumental power trio The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic is instrumental (and a power trio) no more.

After releasing a full length CD in 2013, an EP in 2014 and performing the main stages of both DesertFests London and Berlin sans vocals, UEMG – comprised of Ed Mundell on guitar (Monster Magnet, the Atomic Bitchwax), Rick Ferrante on drums (Sasquatch) and Collyn McCoy on bass (Trash Titan, Sugar Fly) — has decided to change it up in 2015 with the addition of a permanent vocalist: Brigitte Roka of Los Angeles.

“My intention when leaving Monster Magnet after eighteen years was to work with new musicians, singers, producers and engineers,” says guitarist Ed Mundell. “In this quest, we have found an incredible singer in 19-year-old Brigitte Roka. She brings a fresh yet bluesy 70’s vibe to our sound. We are playing a few shows in Southern California debuting a few of our new songs and plan to go into the studio later in the year.”

The year is 1969,” enthuses bassist Collyn McCoy. “Robert Plant and Janis Joplin have a one-off fling backstage at the Texas International Pop Festival, producing a love child. Only the embryo is frozen and thawed out 27 years later, in Moscow, Russia of all places. Said embryo immigrates to Los Angeles where she’s raised on a steady diet of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Atomic Rooster and of course, the musical stylings of her biological parents. That’s Brigitte. I mean, perhaps I’ve mythologized her origin story a bit, but really it’s the only plausible explanation for how awesome she is.”

Upcoming shows:
June 20th, 2015 – Yucca Man Shakedown, Yucca Valley, CA (private event)
August 29th, 2015 – Alex’s Bar, Long Beach, CA (with Sun and Sail Club and The Freeks)

https://www.facebook.com/TheUEMG
https://twitter.com/EDMUNDELL
https://theuemg.bandcamp.com
http://www.theultraelectricmegagalactic.com/

The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, Through the Dark Matter (2014)

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Eternal Fuzz, Nostalgia: Hum under the Floorboards

Posted in Reviews on June 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

eternal-fuzz-nostalgia

Lest the tonally-minded New Jersey four-piece be accused of not living up to the title of what might rightly — and might wrongly, so don’t quote me — be considered their debut LP, Nostalgia, the CD version of the release contains no fewer than six bonus tracks, culled from a June 2012 session dubbed Camp Fuzz. Those cuts add another 19 minutes to Nostalgia‘s otherwise manageable 45, which isn’t enough to push the limits of the format, but is enough that, if you’re going to take on the full 63-minute Nostalgia/Camp Fuzz listening experience, it’s worth being aware of the commitment one is making.

Taken on their own, the nine songs of Nostalgia proper find Eternal Fuzz exploring melodically resonant ground somewhere between post-rock and more densely-packed sludge, guitar and bass grit meeting with melodic vocals that at times, as on “Deep Fuzz Nebula,” recall a slower-paced Floor, the oddly credited lineup of Joe (general council), Kyle (recycling officer), Mike (party planning commissioner) and Luke (archivist) working in harmonized or near-harmonized vocal layers atop large-sounding roll, what might otherwise be a harsh sound if it played to screamy expectations proving oddly soothing — a lullaby of low end and melodic push, or at least it seems on the surface, since if one digs deeper into the crooning of the standout “Sea Change,” the lyrics, “Anyone with half a brain can see we’re fucked” and the repeated “can see we’re fucked,” are plain enough to the ear, and with the titular pun potentially referencing environmental impacts of climate change, the associations are anything but soothing. So be it.

The marriage of opposites there and elsewhere throughout Nostalgia only serves to enhance the listening experience overall, the band careening through lumber and plod on opener “Closer (Slugnaut) Fleet,” the aforementioned “Deep Fuzz Nebula” and subsequent, chug-happy “Closer Beings,” but subtly working off a punkish edge on the following “Terraessence,” a version of which also appeared on Camp Fuzz, which was previously released digitally. Album-finale “Thrash the Snakepipe,” which seems to pull together space-stoner and skater themes lyrically, also appeared in a prior incarnation on Camp Fuzz, and if the jump in recording quality between the Nostalgia versions and the preceding ones is anything to go by, the development in Eternal Fuzz‘s sound has been significant over the last several years. “Terraessence” cuts down the runtime and ups the energy level, a steady, upbeat rumble giving way to quiet as it passes the midpoint and then igniting a slower rollout as it moves toward the finish and bleed into “Sea Change,” the structure of which is likewise linear and the rhythm of which holds firm to the momentum the band have thus far built.

eternal-fuzz

That momentum is considerable, especially taking into account the snail’s-pace tempos at which they seem comfortable despite, at times on “Closer (Slugnaut) Fleet,” sounding like they’re struggling against an impulse to move faster, and it continues into the loud/quiet trades of “Moody Hum,” which on the first couple listens might easily get lost behind “Sea Change,” but in the end earns the attention its airy guitar squibblies seem to be demanding. Together with “Astral Tractor Beam,” which follows, “Moody Hum” brings about a somewhat different look from the band, who because the vocals are so singularly melodic in their approach — a later-Isis style adding post-metal vibes throughout — at first come across as unipolar, but are actually working to offer a variety of moods.

“Atomic Beauty,” at 6:10, is the longest cut since “Closer Beings” (which is the longest on the album proper at 6:15) and builds tension over its first 90 seconds before unfolding its full tonal breadth, and cuts out at the halfway mark to cycle through again, this time from minimalism to the roll over a quicker span, ending in feedback to make room for “Thrash the Snakepipe,” a return to faster pacing and and Floored vibes, the almost poppy sound Eternal Fuzz elicit in the central verse riff underscoring the smoothness with which they’ve been able all along to pull together their stylistic blend. “Thrash the Snakepipe” is a charming finish, but hardly the end, with the entirety of Camp Fuzz (minus the original versions of “Terraessence” and “Thrash the Snakepipe”) still to follow, beginning with the three-minute, the opening stick clicks of which signal the shift to a live-in-studio feel that is maintained all throughout “Thok’Nor” and the ensuing tracks, which on average are shorter than their Nostalgia counterparts preceding, but carry a similar focus on tone and melody, “Mike Conover” dooming out more than the 2:09 “Aglow and Rampant” but closer “Earth/II-IV The Road” being arguably the most progressive of the bunch.

Camp Fuzz, with the two not-included-on-disc tracks, is available from the band as a name-your-price download, but being tossed on the disc in its entirety adds to the titular feel of Nostalgia and highlights the notion that the album is that much more special to the band with those cuts on there. It having been six years since they got their start in 2009 with the “Closer Beings” single and four since they issued their encouraging [Demo] (review here) in 2011, it makes sense that Eternal Fuzz would want to put as much as they had into the finished product here because who knows when, or if, they’ll get the chance to do this all again. On that level, it’s entirely possible Nostalgia takes its name from the band’s future vision of it as from any backward-looking they might be doing in the now, and while time invariably brings scrutiny to any creative work, especially by those who made it, I don’t hear anything in these songs that wouldn’t be worth remembering fondly.

Eternal Fuzz, Nostalgia (2015)

Eternal Fuzz on Thee Facebooks

Eternal Fuzz on Bandcamp

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Attalla Announce East Coast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

attalla

Raw toned Wisconsin four-piece Attalla will hit the Eastern Seaboard for 15 days starting July 10. They’ll make their way out from Chicago to hit the Northeast and do a couple shows in the Mid-Atlantic before turning back through the Midwest, all in support of their 2014 self-titled debut (review here). I’d be interested to see these guys live and figure not necessarily how it stands up to the release, since one imagines it’s pretty close — it’s not like they were trying to clean it up for the record; unless, of course, they were — but what level of intensity they bring to the stage. Could be quite an experience.

A classic-style poster and the dates follow here, as sent by the band down the PR wire:

attalla tour poster

ATTALLA – East Coast Tour 2015 Dates

Very happy to share our East Coast 2015 tour dates with you!

Hailing from a state known for the invention of the electric guitar, the most notorious serial killers, long, ruthless winters and more bars than churches, ATTALLA doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. Starting in late 2012, with roots in punk and hardcore, its members applied their DIY ethos to a style of music that had fueled their earlier endeavors but had yet to be fully harnessed. Drawing influences from Black Sabbath to Black Flag, ATTALLA started writing and forming what has become their debut LP. Recorded on Halloween 2013, this record is the result of months of sonic drudgery and aural abuse. Backed by the support of their local scene, ATTALLA trudges forward, spreading their strain of rock’n’roll to future sufferers of tinnitus.

ATTALLA – East Coast Tour 2015
July 10 Chicago, IL – Liar’s Club
July 11 Fort Wayne, IN – Skeletunes Lounge
July 12 Detroit, MI – Corktown Tavern
July 13 – TBA
July 14 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
July 15 Pittsburgh, PA – Gooski’s
July 16 Buffalo, NY – Mohawk Place
July 17 Rochester, NY – Monty’s Krown
July 18 Wallingford, CT – Knuckleheads
July 19 Brooklyn, NY – TBA
July 20 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie
July 21 Baltimore, MD – SideBar
July 22 Richmond, VA – Emilios
July 23 Wilmington, NC – Scrap Iron Bike Shop / Bar
July 24 Louisville, KY – Magnolia Bar
July 25 St. Louis, MO – Heavy Anchor

Artwork by Smithspeed

Cody Stieg – Lead Guitar/Vocal
Brian Hinckley – Rhythm Guitar
Bryan Kunde – Bass
Aaron Kunde – Drums

More info at:
facebook.com/attallawi
attallawi.bandcamp.com
@attallawi on Instagram

Attalla, Attalla (2014)

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Sons of Tonatiuh Post New Track; East Coast Tour Starts Wednesday

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

sons of tonatiuh

One assumes a “Skull File” is the cabinet in which one keeps one’s meticulously organized collection of skulls. It’s also the name of the new song posted by Atlanta sludgers Sons of Tonatiuh, who will head out on an East Coast tour this Wednesday. Recorded in 2013, “Skull File” will also feature on their to-be-tracked third album, which presumably they’ll put to tape before heading abroad this fall, a run for which the tour dates have yet to be revealed.

Actually, we don’t know much about the album yet either. I’d say Sons of Tonatiuh were playing it close to the chest, but on the other hand, they’re letting people hear rough versions of new songs — they’re not calling it a demo, so I won’t either — months ahead of the album on which they’ll later appear. So you know, give and take.

The PR wire has it like this:

sons of tonatiuh tour

SONS OF TONATIUH: Atlanta Sludge Faction To Kick Off East Coast Live Invasion Wednesday; Unreleased Track Posted

This Wednesday, the sludge slingers in SONS OF TONATIUH will quake the stages of eleven venues on their latest jaunt of live debauchery. Scheduled to embark this Wednesday on their home turf of Atlanta at 529, the band will make their way North and back again, playing several locales they’ve yet to punish, with the tour coming to a close on June 27th in Raleigh. Bring ear plugs.

SONS OF TONATIUH recently unveiled the diseased fruits of unreleased track, “Skull File,” for public intoxication. The scathing hymn was tracked at a home studio in Atlanta in the Fall of 2013 with engineering band acquaintance, Ben Martin, and serves as a precursor to the recording of their full-length, slated to begin this Summer. Their as-yet-untitled third offering will include a re-recorded version of “Skull File,” as well as seven brand new tracks of slow-roasted wrath and desolation.

SONS OF TONATIUH:
6/17/2015 529 – Atlanta, GA w/ Rapturous Grief, Waste Layer
6/18/2015 The Milestone – Charlotte, NC w/ From the Gun
6/19/2015 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA w/ Backwoods Payback
6/20/2015 O’Brien’s Pub – Boston, MA w/ Finisher
6/21/2015 Lucky 13 – Brooklyn, NY
6/22/2015 My Place Pizza – Poughkeepsie, NY
6/23/2015 The Hoyt House – Buffalo, NY
6/24/2015 The Smiling Mouse – Pittsburgh, PA
6/25/2015 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA w/ Repellers
6/26/2015 Guido’s – Frederick, MD
6/27/2015 Slim’s Downtown – Raleigh, NC w/ Squall

http://sonsoftonatiuh.bandcamp.com/
http://www.sonsoftonatiuh.com
http://www.facebook.com/sonsoftonatiuh

Sons of Tonatiuh, “Skull File”

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Clamfight Recording Update, Pt. 1

Posted in Features on June 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

clamfight 1

So this is part one of the Clamfight recording update — the heavy thrashing Philly four-piece in the studio at Gradwell House with Steve Poponi at the helm as they track their third full-length, yet untitled — but it might be a while before we see part two. As drummer/vocalist/smith of words Andy Martin explains, the process of making this outing is different from either their self-titled 2010 debut (review here) or the subsequent I vs. the Glacier (track-by-track here), which was released on this site’s then-not-at-all-defunct in-house label, The Maple Forum, in that it will have a two-month break in between its start and its completion.

A strange process? Yes. But as Martin — joined in the band by lead guitarist Sean McKee, guitarist Joel Harris and bassist Louis Koble — informs, the album itself is also pretty different from what they’ve done before, so maybe in a way it’s fitting. Perhaps best to let him tell the tale:

DIG IF YOU WILL, A PICTURE:

It’s 2:30 or 2:40 last Sunday, and after setting up since noon, we are finally about to start recording our third full-length record. We’re a little nervous, but we’re excited; we’ve practiced as much our suddenly-super-adult schedules allowed, and the general vibe is, “we are ready.”

clamfight 2I might have the geography of this slightly backwards, but I’m fairly certain Steve Poponi (who did our last two records, and as far as we’re concerned knocked them both of the park) was in the big room doing some last-minute dicking with cables* and we were in the control room discussing what song we were going to start with, when a sweaty, middle-aged guy with the standard issue South Jersey manual labor pompadour appeared in the control room and uttered one of nobody’s favorite phrases in the English language, “Which one of you drives the…”

And just like that, Joel’s car needed a new door, and that “we are so ready for this session” vibe when right out the fucking window.

Sunday ended up being a really long day, and though I managed to finish all my drum tracks, and since that was technically our only concrete goal for this session, you could argue that we ended up ahead of the game, but our shaky-as-a-baby-deer’s-first-steps beginning kind of put a pale over the session. It’s actually why this writeup took me a little longer to get together; I had to ask myself whether I was going to be honest and say, “this was a tough one,” or lie and say, “great times guys! Pay no attention to Joel having to sweep up broken glass and file police reports when he’d rather be recording.”

So in the end, and as you can guess because you’re reading this, I opted for honesty. But here’s me also being honest: the new stuff smokes and it’s made the rough way this session began okay in our books. Though it felt really slow in coming, the change really started Sunday. “Whale Road” which will lead off the next record, was a bear to record, but then “Selkie” went a lot smoother, and “Echoes” and “The History of the Earls of Orkney” were both real close to being first-takers. Our crazy non-Clamfight-related schedules, the accident, all of that stuff was something we got over, but realistically it did make the start of this session a little clumsier than any of us wanted.

Speaking of another unanticipated monkey wrench: the length of these songs. Clamfight III, or whatever we end up calling it (A Vulgar Display of a Tree Service Guy Not Using His Mirrors?), is made up clamfight 3of big, long songs, and though there’s been a seven-minute song or two on each of our prior records, we’d never recorded anything in the 10-or-beyond-minute range, and hence, didn’t quite realize the time commitment that is. If one take of the song lasts 10, or nearly 13 minutes as in the case of “History…,” then the playback takes at least that long. More, if you count the number of times, myself included, that one of us dopes has a fascinating dick joke that can’t wait until the listening is done. If there’s one downside to being in a band with three of your best friends, and making records with a good friend like Poponi, it’s that there is a lot of gum flapping… and when your songs are all 10 minutes, that adds up to a lot of time gone when you’re not recording.

With the drums done and 5AM wake ups for Joel and I looming, we called it a day (the other guys have inside jobs, I’m not sure when they wake up… 10? 11? I picture their morning routines like Eddie Murphy’s in the beginning of Coming to America). We reconvened Monday night and Sean got to work on his rhythm tracks, and in predictable Sean fashion he banged it out at warp speed. The funny thing about Sean’s recording chops versus my own is that since we both do the majority of writing for Clamfight, you might assume that we’d both be similarly hassle free about recording. You would however, be wrong. In fact, if you watched the two of us record, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Sean wrote and practiced these songs for months by his lonesome, and the first time I heard them was the morning of the session.

But I digress. The takeaway is that Sean crushed it on this, and Steve’s ability to get a great tone out of his rig remains intact. We quit around midnight, I believe, and tired from a seemingly endless day we hit home. To be brutally honest, I still didn’t know what we had yet. I was hearing glimmers of the record now, and was liking what I could hear, but I was still too rattled from what I expected to be an easy session turning into a battle to really have an opinion on it. I clamfight 4was edgy but starting to get a sense that maybe this stuff was turning out alright.

Day three, and our final day for this session, began around six the next night, and Louis stomped through his tracks fairly quickly. Not to get a bunch of angry (but probably deserved) comments from my many bass-playing buddies, but I’m not sure I ever appreciated the bass as much as I did listening to Louis lay down his tracks. I gained a newfound appreciation of how much fuller the bass makes things, and how crucial its role as “the sound between sounds” really is. We were pressed for time at this point, so Joel only managed to get tracking done on two of the songs (which after being up since five and still answering phone calls about his car I think gives him MVP status), but we had enough for our other stated goal of the session; rough mixes for which Sean could write solos for and I could write lyrics.

Because here’s the rub, and why this session is a bit different than our prior records: we went into the making of this record knowing there was going to be a two month break in the proceedings. It’s good because as much as we wanted and tried to schedule this record in a big block of time in the manner we did I Versus the Glacier it was impossible. Somewhere in the five years since we recorded our last full-length we got mired into a whole host of outside-of-Clamfight, adult responsibilities, and adding to that mix Steve and the Gradwell House’s ever more packed schedule (he just did Fight Amp’s stellar new record, Constantly Off), it meant that blocking out a week to make this record happen wasn’t going to work. If there’s an upside to us being older and busier, it’s that we’ve all maybe grown a bit more patient, so fighting overall schedules, we managed to figure out a way to make it go, even if that clamfight 5way for us is a little different than what we’re used to.

So here we are, with a record 50 percent of the way done, and a few months off to tighten up solos and lyrics, and then come back in the fall and finish this pig in a weekend. As for how we feel about the material now? We’re happy. Real happy. There was a flood of back and forth, “oh man, did you hear that?” messages in the days following finishing this session. Even in its current state, missing half of Joel’s parts, and all of the solos and vocals, it sounds big. Booming. Dynamic. We’re this-is-the-best-thing-we’ve-ever-done stoked on it. We’re proud of it enough that’s actually put us in a good place about this weirdly tough session, and we’re all dying to come back and finish this thing so we can start letting people hear it.

— Andy Martin, June 16, 2015

*I really, really don’t understand electronics.

Clamfight, I vs. the Glacier (2013)

Clamfight on Thee Facebooks

Clamfight on Bandcamp

Gradwell House Recording

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Make to Release Second Album The Golden Veil in July

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

make

If you look at the waveform of Make‘s “The Absurdist,” the first-revealed song from their second album, The Golden Veil, it gives a sense of the calculation at work in the audio itself, which builds from a quieter, ambient opening to a post-metallic crush of dense tones and growling vocals in a manner no less linear than it appears. The new full-length is the follow-up to Make‘s debut LP, Trephine, which the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, trio released in 2011. As to what the rest of the long-player might hold, given the breadth of “The Absurdist” as it makes its way from one end of that line to the other, I wouldn’t hazard a guess.

The PR wire invites digging:

make the golden veil

MAKE RETURN WITH TRIUMPHANT SECOND ALBUM

After a year-long hiatus, North Carolina’s doom-metal stalwarts MAKE return with their long-awaited second album.

‘The Golden Veil’ is the follow up to the band’s critically acclaimed ‘Axis’ EP and debut full-length ‘Trephine’ and is set for release on July 23.

Says bassist Spencer Lee: “’The Golden Veil’ feels at once more diverse and more concise. We’ve explored a few elements of our sound that had previously been something we’d only touched on briefly, or maybe even just hinted at by proximity. The space is spacier, the metal is heavier, and the concept (though in a sense more nebulous) feels more completely realized.”

Recorded at Legitimate Business, NC, with engineer and producer Kris Hilbert (The Body, Torch Runner) at the helm, the album was mastered by James Plotkin (Khanate, Phantomsmasher, Jodis) and is easily MAKE’s heaviest, most psychedelic, and most sonically lush release to date.

MAKE have played Hopscotch Music Festival, toured with Dragged Into Sunlight and shared bills with Unfomammut, Deafheaven, Alcest, Coffinworm, The Atlas Moth, Altar Of Plagues, Crowbar and many others, and are fixtures of North Carolina’s music scene.

The album will be available for download on July 23, followed by a limited edition 180gm vinyl version with deluxe packaging in September.

Pre-orders can be made here: https://thebandmake.bandcamp.com/album/the-golden-veil

MAKE are: Scott Endres (vocals, guitar), Spencer Lee (vocals, bass), Luke Herbst (drums)

www.facebook.com/thebandmake
twitter.com/thebandmake
thebandmake.blogspot.com

Make, “The Absurdist”

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Paradise Lost, T.G. Olson, Abrams, We are Oceans and Skunk

Posted in Radio on June 5th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

Yeah, it’s only been a week since the last round of radio adds went up, and yeah, it usually takes me way longer than that to get a batch together — more for my own inability to organize than the lack of stuff coming in — but this time I managed it and in the interim there were 16 releases that happened along that it seemed only fair to toss into the fray. And so here we are. The bunch is suitably eclectic, as I think the highlight selections below showcase, but if you want to go down the list for yourself, hit up the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page and have at it. Of the 37 list-based posts you’ll likely read on the internet today, this… should be one of them, I guess? Sorry, I’ve always sucked at promotions. I hope you find something you dig either here or there.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 5, 2015:

Paradise Lost, The Plague Within

paradise lost the plague within

Their 14th album overall, The Plague Within is iconic UK doomers Paradise Lost‘s fourth for Century Media and third since the stylistic renaissance that seemed to begin in 2009 with Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us (review here) got rolling. 2012’s Tragic Idol was a respectable follow-up working in a similar vein, and The Plague Within is likewise, veering into thrashier tempo for “Flesh from Bone” but generally reveling in an emotionally wrought vision of melancholia bridging the gap between the pioneering death-doom of their early days and the goth theatrics that followed. The turn they made six years ago was not an accident, and they have very clearly been working from a pattern since — many interesting things can happen to a band 14 albums in, but few will be accidents — but that doesn’t necessarily make a record like The Plague Within ineffective. Rather, cuts like “Terminal” and the plodding “Beneath Broken Earth” foster a bleak and encompassing sense of mood, and with strings, guest vocals and piano added to the arrangement, “An Eternity of Lies” still manages to keep its sense of focus held firm, the band’s well-honed experience serving them well. They have a loyal legion of fans who’ll follow them wherever they head, but even if The Plague Within is Paradise Lost playing to their latter-day strengths, I’m not inclined to argue against that. There’s a reason they are who they are. Paradise Lost on Thee Facebooks, Century Media.

T.G. Olson, The Wandering Protagonist

t.g. olson the wandering protagonist

A collection of at-least-semi-improvised recordings by Across Tundras guitarist/vocalist Tanner Olson, operating under his solo moniker of T.G., The Wandering Protagonist is the follow-up to 2014’s The Rough Embrace (review here), and is perhaps less plotted out but with no diminishing of its folkish spirit. Olson plays electric, acoustic and slide guitar, organ, flute, harmonica (the latter is a focal point early in closer “Down in the Valley Below”), percussion drones and piano, and enters into easy instrumental conversation with himself, though there are some vocals as well on opener “Great Rock Falls.” For Across Tundras fans, the highlight might be nine-minute “Small Triumph,” with its heavier progression, but focusing on that without paying attention to the swelling drone, harmonica and acoustic guitar interplay of “For the Torn” before it is missing the point. The Wandering Protagonist is true to its title in that Olson does wind up in a variety of places — sonically, that is; the songs were recorded at his Ramble Hill Farm, outside Nashville in Tennessee — and a song like “Slow Susanna,” at 1:12, carries through like the experiment it is (a take on “Oh Susanna”), but these tracks also brim with open creativity and bring a rare sense of adventure to Americana so often boxed in by tradition. Few are better suited to push the limits of the form. Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Abrams, Lust. Love. Loss.

abrams lust love loss

Denver trio Abrams make their full-length debut with the triply-punctuated Lust. Love. Loss., a self-released 10-track collection with an obvious focus on flow, complexity of songwriting, crisp execution, tight performances and an overarching sense of heft that is more than ably wielded. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Zach Amster, bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen and drummer Mike Amster (also Blaak Heat Shujaa), the three-piece seem to take their cues from the post-Baroness school of progressive heavy rock, bringing the occasional flourish of post-rock as in the airy tones of “Sunshine” or post-hardcore in “Mr. Pink Always Wins” but keeping the “post-” pretty consistent amid a nonetheless thrusting rhythmic charge. Amster and Iversen combine forces readily on vocals, to charming effect on “Sweaty and Self Conscious,” and a later turn like the slower, sludgier push of “Useless” arrives at just the right moment before the title-track and closer “The Light” mount the album’s final argument in its own favor, the latter offsetting odd-timed chugging with intermittent builds and payoffs leading toward a last movement not overdone, but classy in a manner befitting the cuts before it. The fuzz of “Sea Salt Lines” hints toward Truckfighters and the semi-bombast of “Far from Home” calls to mind Sandrider, but Abrams appear most interested in developing their own sound from these elements rather than aping the sounds of others, and I hear nothing in their debut to tell me they can’t get there. Abrams on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

We are Oceans, Woodsmoke

We Are Oceans - Woodsmoke - cover

Following up on their 2012 self-titled debut (review here), Massachusetts instrumenalists We are Oceans return with their second four-track full-length, Woodsmoke, which starts our directly referencing Earth in “Stonewall,” the opener and longest track here at 13:44 (immediate points), but soon enough move toward a more individualized and fleshed-out heavy post-rock, airy guitar not replacing verses nor trying to, but adding texture and a dreamy vibe to progressions that feel steady and patient in like measure, no change either rushed or needless, but fitting with what the song needs, whether it’s the immersive shifts of “Stonewall” or the down-to-silence break in the second half of “Dead Winds,” which builds back up to one of Woodsmoke‘s most satisfying payoffs. While “Stonewall,” “Dead Winds” and 12:12 closer “Solstice” are all north of the 10-minute mark, third cut “Pressed Flowers” (4:10) assures that the four-piece have more to them than one kind of development, a serene, peaceful line playing out not quite at a drone’s repetitiveness, but with a subtle evolution of the central theme, from which “Solstice” picks up started by the guitar but ultimately propelled in its early going by the drums, a fluid jazz taking hold as We are Oceans move to the inevitable crescendo that caps Woodsmoke in its last moments. Their debut was an encouraging start, but it’s in these songs that We are Oceans really showcase the aesthetic potential at the heart of their project. May they continue to grow. We are Oceans on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Skunk, Heavy Rock from Elder Times

skunk heavy rock from elder times

I guess the “elder times” that Oakland, California, five-piece Skunk — vocalist John McKelvy, guitarists Dmitri Mavra and Erik Pearson, bassist Matt Knoth and drummer Jordan Ruyle — are talking about on their 2015 Heavy Rock from Elder Times debut demo is some combination of the ’90s and the ’70s, since as opener “Forest Nymph” telegraphs, they seem intent on answering the question of what might happen if Fu Manchu and AC/DC ever joined forces. It’s a noble mission, to be sure, and their fuzz and classic swagger is sold well over the course of the demo’s six tracks, which are as unabashedly stoner in their riffs as they are in titles like “Black Hash,” “Devil Weed” and “Wizard Bong.” Heavy Rock from Elder Times being their first collection of songs, I don’t feel like I’m giving away state secrets by saying there’s room for them to grow, but cuts are catchy in their turns and hooks, and the command that McKelvy shows alone in riding these riffs bodes well for where they might go next — their approach is cohesive even in its self-recorded, initial form. That’s never a bad place to start from, and if they have growing to do, at least they’ve given those who might check them out something worth their time in this welcome opening salvo. Skunk on Thee Facebooks, on Twitter, on Bandcamp

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Tried to get a decent amount of variety, at least within the sphere of heavy, and hopefully managed to do that, with some doom, rolling country experimentalist, neo-prog, post-rock and all out riffing. Again, on the chance nothing here tickled your fancy — because rest assured, the aim here is to tickle fancies — I think that might be the creepiest thing I’ve ever typed — be sure to hit up the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page, to see not only the other 11 records that were added to the server today, but, you know, everything else from the last two-plus years. There’s bound to be something in there you dig.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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On Wax: Old Indian, Mumble

Posted in On Wax on June 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

old indian mumble vinyl and package

Mumble is the self-released debut vinyl long-player from Frederick, Maryland, trio Old Indian, and though their moniker and their home base both bring a certain amount of expectation to the release — i.e. they’re called Old Indian and they’re from Frederick, so they must be stoner doom — the record itself plays out with a much more intricate stylistic spread. It’s eight songs, four on each side, totaling a relatively quick 33 minutes, but even so, the turns that the trio of guitarist/vocalist Cory Springirth, bassist/backing vocalist Mark Weeks and drummer/backing vocalist Evan Owens manage to pull off make Mumble a more nuanced experience than one might anticipate.

old indian mumble side a Even just side A. All four of its songs hover around four minutes long, but that proves to be more than enough time for each to establish its own sonic personality, whether it’s the loosely progressive noodling that starts opener “Space Connect,” the bizarre lounge jangle and swing of “Mean Man,” which Springirth uses as the backdrop to introduce his yelping bluesy vocal style and from which Owens sort of inexplicably launches into a drum solo in the midsection, or the purely Saint Vitus-style fuzz of “Too Old to be Cool,” which rolls out low-end heavy in its initial push and tops it with plucked guitar strings at the headstock before opening to a wider, more subdued verse that still swings but does so quietly, giving the vocals room, or the psych-country twang of “Bedside Blues,” on which the vocals are less, well, mumbled, to start with, and which shits in its midsection to an upbeat, near-rockabilly push that features some choice bass runs from Weeks beneath the guitar.

Already the vibe of Mumble is all over the place, but side B works to establish a spirit that, while still malleable, is also somewhat more cohesive one cut into the next. “The Riff” is a solid title, and accordingly its central riff is worthy of highlighting, but the bass fuzz that underscores the later solo is actually the high point, while on the subsequent “Just a Bum,” Springirth offers a touch of Dick Dale influence in the surf-style guitar before winding up in a punkish verse and pushing through a final lead. Oh yeah, and the song’s two and a half minutes long — nothing if not efficient in its motion.

“Eyelids” is more laid back from the start, old indian mumble back coverplaying the low end of “Too Old to be Cool” off more post-grunge oddity and trades between tin-can vocals over open spaces and heavier jamming, an undulating sort of riff emerging near the finish of the three-minute track that cuts out to let Owens‘ cymbals lead the way into the bass beginning of seven-minute closer “Spanish Blues.” Noteworthy that both sides end with a “Blues,” but the “Spanish” variety is on its own trip, taking longer to develop, but also farther-ranging. The extra time is given to instrumental exploration and plotted parts that suit Old Indian well, the last four minutes or so taking off from the foundation of the song and heading outward from there on a satisfying plunge into immersive, rolling heavy that like the rest of the record before it, is decidedly their own in its style and execution.

Unquestionably that’s one of the greatest impressions Mumble leaves behind when it’s over — of individuality. Being their first album, it shows Old Indian can essentially develop as a band in one of two ways: either they can take these elements and tighten them into a crisp but ultimately more single-minded aesthetic, or they can keep getting weirder on an anything-goes Ween-style blend of genres. I don’t think I’d argue if they said they were going to give either a shot, since a more subtle factor on Mumble is the songwriting itself. It might get lost underneath the basic appeal of Springirth‘s yowling vocals, the fuzz, the reverb or the jangle, but it’s there all the same, and ultimately that’s what’s going to make it work as Old Indian move forward from here, in whatever direction they might go.

Old Indian, Mumble (2015)

Old Indian on Thee Facebooks

Old Indian on Bandcamp

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