The 91s Release 138 this Friday

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I have no doubt that the fact that I was born and raised in my beloved Garden State of New Jersey has something to do with it, but I can’t see the number 138 in any context and not immediately think of the Misfits. Do I even need to say why? Seriously though. Highway exits, buying things that are a little over a dollar, it’s impossible for me to see 138 somewhere and not launch into a Danzig impression: “We are 138/We are 138/We are 138.”

Using context clues from the picture below, I’m going to guess Pennsylvania’s The 91s had something else in mind when they chose 138 as the title of their forthcoming third album, but still, the association persists. At least for me. Am I alone on that one? Kind of interested to know if other people do the same thing. Are we all New Jerseyans at heart, at least in this?

While you’re pondering that question and the potential horrors the true answer might mean for society as a whole — NJ, much as I love it, elected Chris Christie as its governor because he was the closest thing they could find to Tony Soprano; a far from perfect state — check out The 91s‘ new track “Ask the Dust,” streaming at the bottom of this post and named for the 1939 John Fante novel that you and I both probably should’ve read in college.

Dig it;

the 91s

Harrisburg, PA rock/stoner/funk trio known as 91s (Ninety Ones), are bringing out their 3rd studio album titled “138” on May 19th 2017 under the label Hi Way Recordings. “138” features eight tracks and was recorded during 2016 at their home studio in Harrisburg, PA.

“Whole album was tracked at Hi Way Recordings like our previous albums,” says drummer/vocalist Robert Gallagher, Jr., “but this time we didn’t mix and master it ourselves so we had someone do the mixing and someone else do the mastering. Tim Lengel mixed and Steve Shaw mastered.”

91s’ 138 will be released digitally on May 19th, 2017 on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and more. A preorder for a 150 gram vinyl release of 138 will start the same day on their bandcamp page for a release date anticipated for late June 2017.

91s is Robert Gallagher Jr (Drums, vocals), Patrick Reigel (Guitar) and Anthony Garber (bass). The trio plans to do shows throughout the Mid Atlantic and Northeast USA in the Summer/Fall 2017 in support of the album “138”.

www.91srock.com
www.facebook.com/ninetyones
http://91srock.bandcamp.com
www.twitter.com/91s

The 91s, “Ask the Dust”

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War Cloud Announce June West Coast Weekender

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

It would seem that Oakland four-piece War Cloud have spent the last year or so since the release of their most recent single getting various ducks in a row. The band has newly announced that they’re going to be working with Hi-Wattage Booking for touring — the implication being, you know, that touring will happen — and though more studio material has yet to surface following 2016’s “Vulture City” (posted here), they’ve been playing local shows in the Bay Area, sharing the stage earlier this year with Swedish fuzz mavens Truckfighters and pairing up this month with the esteemed Slough Feg for what’s sure to be a riotous good time for any fortunate rockers, boozers and headbangers who happen to be in the vicinity. My understanding is there are plenty, so all the better.

Next month, the band — which also now includes Carson Binx of Wild Eyes SF on bass — will head north for a couple shows in Oregon and one in Seattle, keeping good company along the way. Check it out:

war cloud

We are stoked to announce that Hi-Wattage Booking has taken us under their wing! The upcoming north west run will be the first of many so keep your eyes open for more dates!

MAY 19 TNL Slough Feg/ War Cloud/ War Child SF Eagle San Francisco, CA
JUN 2 Oort Cloud, War Cloud, Ice Kream Social Old Nick’s Pub Eugene OR
JUN 3 Pushy/ Moodrake/ War Cloud/ Disastroid Twilight Cafe and Bar Portland, OR
JUN 4 Infinite FLUX with War Cloud & The Grindylow Substation Seattle, WA

Erupting in 2014, out of Oakland, California, War Cloud has been on a steady path of shredding Northern Californian ear drums. Founded by Alex Wein (vocals, guitars), who hails from Baltimore MD, he wasted zero time in recruiting area musicians after firmly planting his amps in the Bay Area. Looking to create an aural ash cloud of volcanic rock, Alex solidified this four- man crew with two Bay Area natives Joaquin Ridgell (drums) and Tony Campos (guitar), and secured the low end with Toronto transplant Carson Binx on bass.

War Cloud is a young band but far from wide-eyed innocents. Their musical history drenched in molten riffs across the timeline of heavy metal, the name alone originates from a Wicked Lady song of the same title. With roots encompassing Tony’s tenure in San Francisco’s heavy thrash tinged Hell Fire, Carson’s melding of hard rock rhythm and old-school groove on bass, and Joaquin pounding his drums as if possessed by the ghost of John Bonham himself. War Cloud has created a new flavor of heavy rock music for those enjoying past meals served up by the likes of Pentagram, UFO, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath.

This is modern metal sophistication dipped deep in ‘70’s heavy fuzz rock.

War Cloud is:
Alex Wein – Vocals/Guitar
Tony Campos – Guitar/Vocals
Carson Binx – Bass
Joaquin Ridgell – Drums/Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/warcloudiscoming/
https://www.instagram.com/WarCloudRock/
http://warcloud.bigcartel.com/
http://warcloudiscoming.bandcamp.com/track/vulture-city

War Cloud, “Divide and Conquer” live at The Chapel, San Francisco, July 16, 2016

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Great Electric Quest Announce First Full US Tour; Chapter II Due Later this Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

great electric quest

It’s the first full tour of the US from San Diego four-piece Great Electric Quest, but I’m going to go on record right now and place my bet that it won’t be the last. The emergent heavy rockers have been steadily building momentum since releasing their debut full-length, Chapter I — and really since before that — but as they announce their ‘Squeelin’ Wheels’ tour taking the show on the road, it seems much more like the beginning of a next phase for the band than a one-off. Call me crazy, but they’ve got a t-shirt ready to roll out to mark the occasion and everything. Bands don’t do that kind of thing these days if they’re half-assing it.

They go to support Chapter I and to herald the coming of Chapter II, their second long-player, which will be issued at some point later this year. Guitarist Buddy Donner will also have a tutorial video of the new song “Of Earth” sometime soon for Fu Manchu guitarist Bob Balch‘s PlayThisRiff.com, so expect an early preview of the record there and hopefully more to come around these parts as well as we move closer to the release.

Until then, here are the tour dates, which start May 24 and include stops at Burnin’ Turf II in Michigan (which this site is sponsoring) and the Electric Funeral Fest in Denver, both in June. Dig it:

great-electric-quest-tour

Great Electric Quest Squeelin’ Wheels Tour

W/ Support by @worshipperband @attallawi & @lords_ofbeaconhouse
5/24 Phoenix, AZ Valley Bar – GOYA,TOKE, & Rotting Yellow
5/25 El Paso, TX Boomtown – Dizz Brew, Malahierba, & Pecatta Minuta
5/26 San Angelo TX Dead horse Saloon
5/27 Dallas, TX Renos Chop Shop – Orthodox Fuzz, Bagoyles, & Space Ape
5/28 OKC, OK Blue Note OKC – RedWitch Johnny
5/29 – PARTY
5/30 Louisville, KY Highlands Tap Room – Blind Scryer
5/31 Indianapolis, IN Taps Live! – Void King & The Mound Builders
6/1 Chicago, IL The Cobra Lounge – Attalla, Dead Feathers, & Blue Dream
6/2 Fort Wayne, IN Skeletunes – Attalla, HellHawk
6/3 Ruth, Michigan *Burnin Turf II* Bison Machine, Bonehawk & More
6/4 Baltimore, MD The Depot – Mangog & Worshipper
6/5 Richmond, VA McCormacks – Worshipper
6/6 Raleigh, NC Slims – Worshipper & WitchTit
6/7 Charleston, SC Tin Roof – Worshipper
6/8 Atlanta, GA Masquerede – Worshipper & Echoes of Savages
6/9 Nashville, TN Springwater – Worshipper
6/10 Birmingham, AL The NICK
6/11 Texarkana, AR Arrow Bar
6/12 Houston, TX White Swan
6/13 – PARTY
6/14 Nashville, TN The Cobra – Lords of Beacon House, Season of Arrows & Howling Giant
6/15 Saint Louis, MO Sinkhole – Lords of Beacon House
6/16 Lawrence, KS The Replay Lounge – Youngblood Supecult
6/17 & 6/18 Denver, Fuckin’ CO ELECTRIC FUNERAL FEST W/ Acid King, Mountain, The Well, Slow Season, The Munsens, Electric Citizen, Goya, R.I.P. , Destroyer of Light, Crypt Trip, Glitter Wizard, Lords of Beacon House, Greenbeard, Red Wizard, Smokey Mirror, Malahierba, Love Gang, Cloud Catcher, Banquet, Monarch and more
6/19 ABQ, NM Moonlight Lounge
6/20 Tempe, AZ Yucca Tap Room

Flyer by Varnsee!

U.S.A. SQUEELIN’ WHEELS TOUR SHIRT

Blazing a trail across the good ol’ U.S. of A! First full U.S. tour for Great Electric Quest. Printed on the Softest shirts out there it’s sure to feel nice on that beer belly you’ve been working on!

https://www.facebook.com/electricquest/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1656542304373227/
https://electricquest.bandcamp.com/

Great Electric Quest, Chapter I (2016)

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Hermitess Post “Blood Moon” Video; Debut Album out May 12

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

hermitess-photo-Blair-Russell

Despite, or maybe because of, a steady dose of harp as a central element of the arrangements on Hermitess‘ forthcoming self-titled debut — out May 12, which is apparently this week; whither thou, 2017? — I hear a bit of Hexvessel‘s earth-worship in the deceptively not-minimalist aesthetic of the Calgary outfit. Begun as the solo-project of Jennifer Crighton (ex-Devonian Gardens) and fleshed out from there with a range of guest players and harmony-providers, Hermitess does indeed offer the sense of loneliness one might expect from the moniker, but as those who’ve separated themselves from society are often considered to be imbued with a special kind of ascetic wisdom, so too does Crighton‘s “isolation” come with a particular depth of melody.

I suppose an even easier comparison point — if we’re being lazy — would be the dark goth-folk atmospheres of Chelsea Wolfe, but again, Crighton brings a nuance to the nine-trackhermitess self titled album such that songs like “Obsidian Stairs,” “Black Lake” and “The Guest,” while grim in mood, lean more toward Angels of Light-style Americana in their foreboding than the kind of dystopian emotionalism one might expect. Still, when Hermitess shifts from acoustic fare into the hey-there’s-drums-and-distortion-here of “Hush,” the droning wash is clear in its impression. One would hardly hold sonic diversity against Crighton, though, as it makes Hermitess a stronger record on the whole, and as she closes out by pairing the string-laden “Tender” with the underlying growl of “Vampires,” the ambient scope is given further reinforcement in kind with the songwriting so essential to a release like this in the first place.

The video below for the track “Blood Moon” is fairly minimal in its own right, featuring a lone figure that’s presumably Crighton herself walking toward the camera, mask held up to her face, carrying a lantern, in the gray woods. It’s kind of a creeper, but so is the song, so I’ll take it, and if it’s your introduction to the album as it was mine, you should know that while it doesn’t necessarily represent the whole of Hermitess‘ Hermitess in terms of the surrounding instrumentation, the patience in its unfolding and lushness of its melody are very much themes around which the work is built.

PR wire info follows the clip. I hope you enjoy:

Hermitess, “Blood Moon” official video

Lead track from the forthcoming album by Hermitess

Concept & Performance: Jennifer Crighton
Camera & Direction: Tatiana Losev

The Hermitess is the solo project of songwriter and harpist Jennifer Crighton, who comes by way of various other musical incarnations, including The Consonant C and Devonian Gardens. Stripping back the performance to a harp and a circle of women’s voices, the Hermitess is an inquisitive, contrary, wounded, wise and ever dreaming incantation

As the name implies, this album came about at a remove from modern life. While isolated in a cabin in northern Michigan, Jennifer Crighton began to conceive of this character (Hermitess) and a set of songs that would feel at home in the wintry knee-deep snow drifts and creaking trees. Crighton’s electric harp stands at the centre of the project. It’s an instrument that’s often associated with both the traditional and the ethereal, and Crighton makes the most of that contrast. Delicate lines loop and tangle into an intricate latticework of rhythm and melody, while unfamiliar sounds and unplaceable textures enrich the arrangements, courtesy of the Audities Foundation’s incomparable collection of instruments and equipment.

Over this sonic foundation, Crighton sings in the voice of her adopted character, the words part story and part incantation. The lyrics question and caution the listener, walking the line between sweet dreams and nightmares—a feeling that’s only enhanced by the chorus of women’s voices drifting through the album like a soft wind cutting across a frozen landscape. It’s the a sound at once eerie and inviting, traced in magic and grounded in nature. It’s the voice of the Hermitess.

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Hermitess on Bandcamp

Hermitess website

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Stone Machine Electric Working on New Album; Live Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Never ones for keeping still for too long, Texas duo Stone Machine Electric have announced they’ve begun work on their next batch of material, presumably with an eye toward an upcoming studio release. Their latest outing, you’ll likely recall, is earlier 2017’s Vivere (review here), a live album issued as a companion-piece to the 2016 sophomore full-length, Sollicitus es Veritatem (review here). We might very well get a release from them before another record surfaces, as they have done in the past putting out tapes of jams or intermittent live digital offerings, etc., but cool that they’re working on new stuff either way, in whatever form it might show up.

They’ve got live dates booked for the summer months around TX, and in October they’ll take part in End Hip End It alongside DoomstressThe WellAmplified Heat, the new lineup of Josefus and a slew of others. More to come on that, I’m sure. In the meantime, Stone Machine Electric sent the following down the PR wire:

stone machine electric

What’s going on with Stone Machine Electric? I guess we can tell you…

Looks like everyone is digging our latest release – VIVERE. You can still pick up a copy on our bandcamp site, along with any other merch you should be interested in. Europe folks can get them at Shiny Beast and save on that shipping!

Us two dudes have been working on a handful of new songs. This means our live set is fresher (because it is always fresh, but now fresh-er), so you should come to an upcoming show if we’re near you. If we’re not playing close enough, let us know and we’ll see what we can do!

SHOW DATES
5/19 – Hellcat Cafe – Houston, TX (w/ Boudain and The Dirty Seeds)
5/20 – Babylon Sportsbar – Metairie, LA (w/ Boudain)
5/26 – The Grotto – Fort Worth, TX (w/ Doomstress)
6/30 – The Grotto – Fort Worth, TX (w/ Burn Thee Insects and Mountain of Smoke)
7/1 – Leftwoods – Amarillo, TX (w/ Burn Thee Insects)
7/14 – Division Brewing – Arlington, TX (w/ Forming the Void and Orcanaut)
10/22 – Walter’s Downtown – Spring, TX End Hip End It

http://www.shinybeast.nl/item/442600/stone_machine_electric_vivere.html
https://www.facebook.com/StoneMachineElectric/
https://twitter.com/SME_band
http://stonemachineelectric.bandcamp.com/
http://www.stonemachineelectric.net/
www.offtherecordlabel.com

Stone Machine Electric, Vivere (2017)

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The Riven Premiere “Killer on the Loose” Video; Debut EP out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the riven

Comprised of five tracks of classic boogie made modern through production clarity and general of-the-now blues vibes, The Riven‘s debut EP, Blackbird, makes a strikingly cohesive impression. The four-piece start out at a rush with “Ain’t No Doctor” and nestle themselves right away into a crisper take on post-Blues Pills heavy jams, big on hooks and easy on groove. London isn’t exactly short on heavy rock and roll these days — or ever — but as The Riven dive into cuts like “Tower” and Blackbird‘s centerpiece title-track, it’s pretty clear they’re making an effort to stand themselves out from the pack.

The band features bassist Max Ternebring, also of Bright Curse, and doesn’t waste time in letting him make an impression on “Ain’t No Doctor,” but by the time they getthe riven blackbird down to “Killer on the Loose” before closing out with “One Last Time,” it’s as much about the whole shuffle as what anyone individually between Ternebring, guitarist Arnau Diaz, vocalist Charlotta Ekebergh and drummer Olof Axegärd might be doing at any given moment. That said, Ekebergh establishes a considerable frontwoman presence throughout, and that remains no less true as Axegärd‘s nuanced snare work punctuates her echoes on “One Last Time” than it was for the boogie of “Tower” earlier on the release. Clearly not something happening by accident.

For those of us not fortunate enough to haunt the bevvy of underground heavy rock clubs throughout London’s winding neighborhoods, The Riven have a brand new performance video for “Killer on the Loose” that’s premiering today. It basically captures them doing what they do with the rock and roll and whatnot, splicing in some old black and white horror movie footage for good measure. You know the drill by now, I’ve no doubt. The highlight of the thing, of course, is the song itself, which stands among Blackbird‘s strongest hooks, delivered from Ekebergh with just a bit of a blown-out edge on her vocals. You’ll hear what I’m talking about as you make your way through.

More info follows the clip below, courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

The Riven, “Killer on the Loose” official video

London based heavy rock band THE RIVEN released their debut EP Blackbird on April 14 2017. The album’s five tracks recall the glory of 70s hard rock and is influenced by bands such as Grand Funk Railroad and Deep Purple.

The Riven is all about raw, soulful, heavy rock with lots of hot sauce and cheap beer. Formed in West London after an alcohol-fueled songwriting session between guitarist Arnau Diaz and bass player Max Ternebring, they were soon to be accompanied by Charlotta Ekebergh on vocals and Olof Axegard on drums.

With a love for bands like Rush, Grand Funk Railroad and Deep Purple in common they started writing and recording songs together. Recording and mixing was done by JB Pilon at his studio Buffalo Studios in East London in November 2016.

The Riven is:
Charlotta Ekebergh – Vocals
Arnau Diaz – Guitar
Max Ternebring – Bass Guitar
Olof Axegärd – Drums

The Riven on Thee Facebooks

The Riven on Bandcamp

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Milkbrother Release Self-Titled Debut EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

milkbrother

Following up on their 2014 debut long-player, Nocturnal, last year, German riff-crunchers Aleph Null offered what was apparently to be their swansong in the four-song Endtime Sisters EP. It couldn’t have been long after that that three-piece of Philip, Carsten and Jens went their separate ways that the former two decided to get Milkbrother going. The new two-piece tracked its debut EP, self-titled and, thus far, self-released, over the course of this past winter, and they’ve offered up its five tracks as a name-your-price download through Bandcamp, pretty much issuing a handwritten invitation to anyone, whether they heard Aleph Null or not, to dig in.

By the end of nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Pigweed,” they’ve made a good case for doing so, with a sound that runs a line between psychedelia and grunge on its way to the more garage-doom-styled riffing and organ work of “Scent of Shrouds.” Classic pop rock melodies pervade deceptively heavy progressions, and for a first outing, Milkbrother‘s Milkbrother obviously benefits from the prior collaboration(s) of its makers, each of whom adopts a multi-instrumentalist/vocalist role throughout, making distinct statements on the dreamy centerpiece “Orchid Eye,” the classically riffed “The Clearance Between,” and progressively theatrical closer “T.I.E.R.”

The vibe’s kind of all over the place, but they handle it well. One looks forward to hearing what Milkbrother can do throughout a full-length stretch. Until then, here’s release info and audio:

milkbrother self-titled

Being mates for decades (in bands like Anti Doctrine, Aleph Null) and collaborating as a duo more than once (Jesus Terror Force, SLON), we present our latest project MILKBROTHER. For us it’s a journey to the origins of our influences focusing especially on the process of writing and recording.

Debut EP of Germany’s MILKBROTHER – from the ashes of Aleph Null (https://alephnull.bandcamp.com) rise this project, digging deep into vintage, mixing progressive, psychedelic and classic rock. Recorded in winter 2016/17.

Tracklisting:
1. Pigweed 09:18
2. Scent of Shrouds 05:09
3. Orchid Eye 03:41
4. The Clearance between 04:40
5. T.I.E.R. 04:17

Milkbrother is
Philip – Vocals, Drums, Guitars, Keys
Carsten – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keys

https://www.facebook.com/Milkbrother.official/
https://milkbrother.bandcamp.com/

Milkbrother, Milkbrother (2017)

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Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us: Ghosts and Smoke

Posted in Reviews on May 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sun-blood-stories-it-runs-around-the-room-with-us

If Sun Blood StoriesIt Runs Around the Room with Us doesn’t demand a headphone listen, that’s only because it’s too classy, too subtle and too busy doing its own work to go around making demands in the first place. It is the third full-length from the Boise, Idaho-based Sun Blood Stories, following behind 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here) and their 2013 debut, The Electric Years, and its weighted high-desert shoegaze moodiness works in part to codify the experimentalism that has thus far been at root in the band’s sound. Emphasis on “in part,” because Sun Blood Stories still offer plenty of fare throughout these nine tracks/46 minutes, but where Twilight Midnight Morning nearly split itself in half between drone-outs and more traditional song structures, It Runs Around the Room with Us — a title that would seem to speak to the energy of its own creation — effectively bridges the gap between those two sides.

This lets the three-piece of Ben Kirby (vocals, guitar, synth, percussion), Amber Pollard (vocals, guitar, theremin, percussion) and Jon Fust (drums, keys, percussion, noise) gracefully unfold songs like opener “End of the Day” — on which the first singing heard comes courtesy of a guest appearance from Aubrey Pollard, presumably Amber‘s daughter — with ultra-immersive atmospherics before moving into the bluesier and more solidified “Step Softly Ghost” and “The Great Destroyer,” the spaciousness in the howling guitar of which does nothing to undercut the memorable nature of its hook. Whether they’re creating a wash of pastoral melancholy in the later ramble of the eight-minute “Time Like Smoke” or underscoring the minimalist outward impression of “Eclipse Theme” with layers of guitar, theremin and keyboard swirl, leading to the weirdo start of “Come Like Rain” with fading loops of guest whistler Brent Joel saying “K. Cool. Now I know,” across the whole span of It Runs Around the Room with UsSun Blood Stories offer some of the richest, most textured American psychedelia one is likely to encounter in 2017. In its progression from where they were two years ago, organic flow between tracks and in the raw performances of KirbyPollard and Fust, it is nothing less than breathtaking.

And while the aforementioned opening salvo of the dreamily wistful “End of the Day,” the building languid shuffle-into-nod of “Step Softly Ghost” and the rolling heavy psych of “The Great Destroyer” isn’t to be discounted in how pivotal it is to setting the tone for It Runs Around the Room with Us as a whole, it’s also only one stage of the album’s breadth, which continues to widen as it moves into “Eclipse Theme,” “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke.” Pollard and Kirby intertwine vocals on “Eclipse Theme” over cymbal washes, while “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke,” the two longest inclusions at seven and eight minutes, respectively, act as a kind of conjoined centerpiece, the former no less righteous and pristine in its initial key-led drift than it is later in Pollard‘s “Come back/(Baby) Come back,” lyrical pleas as the build pays off, while the latter brings more of the ambient experimentalist side of the band into focus amid obscure chants, guitar soundscaping and an emergent grounded instrumental progression surrounded various drones, executed patiently and to hypnotic and fluid effect.

Sun Blood Stories, in this middle third of It Runs Around the Room with Us, dig further into what one might consider the core of the album, and push it about as far out as it will go between “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke” — even the two titles seem intended as complementary — but it’s worth noting that as they move through this vast landscape of their own construction, they never completely let go of the listener’s hand. That is, they never stop guiding the way through the fog. Even in “Time Like Smoke,” which is plenty foggy, Kirby‘s guitar provides something for the band’s audience to grasp onto as they seem to float along the track’s course, slowly unfolding but otherwise easy to get lost within. This speaks to the development of Sun Blood Stories as songwriters, but even more, it highlights the special balance they bring to It Runs Around the Room with Us and the lucidity at work beneath all of their ethereal crafting. When they seem to ooze outward in all directions, that’s still a direction.

sun blood stories

Soon enough, the last two minutes of the album will undo all of the serenity that KirbyPollard and Fust have honed all this time, as the caustic closer “Burn” sets itself toward willful, screamed abrasion from Pollard, discordant crashing instrumentation behind and a vicious extremity meant to surprise as much as it does in a statement as political as it is musical. Before they get there, however, “Echoer Approach” and “Nothing Sacred Will Hold” ease the way out of the middle third of the tracklist and back toward the balance of pieces like “Step Softly Ghost,” an atmosphere playing between solid and liquid states of matter. Led by dual layers of guitar, one drifting, one sliding, “Echoer Approach” is held together by the fluidity in Fust‘s drums, which offer jazzy snare play without veering into anything overly showy or self-indulgent. It’s an easy transition from there into “Nothing Sacred Will Hold,” a late-arriving highlight with Pollard at the fore vocally in airy soulfulness over a winding figure of guitar and keys, Fust building his way back in at around a minute and a half into the proceedings to mark the start of the heavier build which will noise itself out before settling on a weighted riff in its last minute and riding it to the finish at 5:00 flat and the immediate, threatening start of “Burn.”

That Sun Blood Stories would, after creating such a sense of warmth throughout It Runs Around the Room with Us, unleash something so violent at the end of the album is not an accident. It’s a forceful contrast, and the fact that “Burn” itself is nigh-on-unlistenable is the very reason for its being. Written reportedly as a reaction to the proliferation of the Confederate flag as a ‘historical symbol’ of anything more than white supremacy, the social charge echoes “Misery is Nebulous” from the previous album, but “Burn” is so clear in its one-word delivery and so unmistakable in its motive that it almost becomes the necessary culmination of everything before it. They’ve created and cultivated this ground across In Runs Around the Room with Us, brought the listener into this space with them, and at the finish, the only thing left to do is torch the place. So be it.

An apparently digital-only bonus track, “The Enemy,” attempts to undo some of the edge of “Burn,” with in-studio laughter, group-sung folkishness and a jovial air around the repeated lines, “We are the enemy/We are the enemy/Oh shit,” which gradually become, “Ben‘s a sea anenome,” and so on, but the damage is largely done and even the return of Sun Blood Stories‘ experimentalist droning doesn’t undercut the paranoia of the realization at play. Perhaps the sociopolitical context of “Burn” simply bleeds into “The Enemy,” but there’s something foreboding about the six-minute epilogue even though they’re clearly having fun with it that nonetheless darkens the outwardly shimmering atmosphere. Someone gets on mic to say, “If Ben were given an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox,” Pollard seems to provide half an answer, and the album ends.

The journey Sun Blood Stories undertake with It Runs Around the Room with Us — which seems so much more vast than a single room, so much broader than one might expect from a group working as a trio — does not cease to brim with creativity. In the sonic details of “End of the Day,” “Come Like Rain,” and even “Burn,” one finds a rare depth of approach and a level of engagement with and from the material in question that is boldly progressive without being overly cerebral and never loses its melodic crux until it makes a sacrifice of it at the finale. By the time it gets to that point, though, the impression honed across the previous eight tracks remains resonant, and among the scorched remains they leave behind, one thankfully does not find their own accomplishment.

Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us (2017)

Sun Blood Stories on Thee Facebooks

Sun Blood Stories on Twitter

Sun Blood Stories website

Sun Blood Stories on Bandcamp

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