Given my druthers, I’d have had this up more than a week ago, but there was a bit of a crunch last week as you may have seen, so here we are. Better late than something something. The important thing is here’s about two hours’ worth of new music from psych to drone to sludge and if I do say so myself, it’s a pretty good mix of all of it. The first hour gets pretty driving by the time you get down to Gozu and Domadora before the big chill out with New Planet Trampoline, and though I’m always happy to include audio from improv specialists Øresund Space Collective, their “Ode to a Black Hole Pt. 1” might be their most tripped-out affair yet. Darker for sure, but way, way gone.
As always, the theme is simple — new music — and the goal is perhaps you’ll hear something you didn’t know before. The impact of Elephant Tree’s “Aphotic Blues” forced itself into the playlist, and I’ve been digging the hell out of new Goya, Telstar Sound Drone and Gozu releases, so they had to be here too. I hear some Floor in Spotlights, but there’s more to them than just that, which I think you can hear in “The Grower,” and that’s really just the start of what gets to be pretty expansive by the time it’s finished. Hope you enjoy.
Track details follow:
0:00:00 Curse the Son, “Sleepwalker Wakes” from Isolator
0:05:58 Valley of the Sun, “The Hunt” from Volume Rock
0:08:14 Spotlights, “The Grower” from Tidals
0:15:27 Dunbarrow, “The Crows Ain’t Far Behind” from Dunbarrow
0:18:47 Goya, “Last” from The Enemy
0:23:27 Sourvein, “Avian Dawn” from Aquatic Occult
0:26:54 Gozu, “Nature Boy” from Revival
0:30:01 Domadora, “Rocking Crash Hero” from The Violent Mystical Sukuma
0:34:40 New Planet Trampoline, “Acts of Mania” from Dark Rides and Grim Visions
0:43:26 Telstar Sound Drone, “Dead Spaces” from Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles
0:49:27 Samavayo, “Overrun” from Dakota
0:55:58 Elephant Tree, “Aphotic Blues” from Elephant Tree
1:01:53 Black Moon Circle, “Warp Speed” from Sea of Clouds
1:14:54 Jupiter, “In Flux” from Interstellar Chronodive
1:28:43 Øresund Space Collective, “Ode to a Black Hole Pt. I” from Ode to a Black Hole
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Can’t honestly say I’m much surprised to find Ohio’s Valley of the Sun headed back to Europe to support their upcoming LP, Volume Rock. They seem to do well over there and to my limited understanding the conditions for playing live remain lopsided in favor of the Old World as opposed to the New. So yeah, makes sense. Volume Rock is due out April 29 via Sweden’s Fuzzorama Records, the label helmed by Truckfighters, and I find it deeply interesting that Valley of the Sun will be kicking around in Germany right at the end of May, when Freak Valley 2016 will be happening. Could be — and I don’t know this, I’m just exploring the possibility — that they’ll get added, or could just be a coincidence. We’ll probably find out sooner rather than later, but an off-date on the tour, the 26th, is the first night of the fest.
From the PR wire and the internets alike, info and dates:
Valley of the Sun – Volume Rock tour
Volume Rock. Of all the words in the English language that could be drawn upon to illustrate the sheer sound and substance of Cincinnati’s Valley Of The Sun, you’d be hard pressed to find two better. Picking up directly where they left off on last year’s Electric Talons Of The Thunderhawk, the Queen City rockers are back in 2016 with a brand new album on Sweden’s formidable Fuzzorama Records.
Set for release on 29th April, Volume Rock is the culmination of the band’s determination and ability to not only write and record great rock songs, but also their drive and ambition to become one of the best bands to emerge from the underground.
After supporting Fuzzorama label mates Truckfighters on lengthy stints across Europe and America, it’s fair to say that the stage is set for what’s going to be a big year for the band.
Valley of the Sun live: May 6 Kiel, DE Schaubude May 7 Marburg, DE KFZ May 10 Koln, DE Underground May 13 Wurzburg, DE Immerhin May 14 Hamburg, DE Rock Cafe May 17 Berlin, DE Urban Spree May 18 Munster, DE Rare Guitar May 20 Zurich, CH Ebrietas May 21 Lucerne, CH Bruch Brothers May 24 Munchen, DE Backstage Club May 25 Düsseldorf, DE Pitcher May 27 Frankfurt, DE Nachtleben May 28 Stuttgart, DE 1210
Valley Of The Sun: Aaron Boyer – Drums Ringo Jones – Bass Chris Harrison – Guitar Ryan Ferrier – Guitar, Vocals
Volume Rock, the sophomore full-length from Cincinnati, Ohio, heavy rockers Valley of the Sun, is available now to preorder from Fuzzorama Records. That same label released the band’s 2014 debut, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk (review here), which was preceded by the 2011 EP The Sayings of the Seers (review here) and an earlier 2010 demo/EP. The Swedish imprint run by members of fuzz kings Truckfighters makes an all the more fitting home for the band, who may or may not have rebuilt around the core lineup of guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier and drummer Aaron Boyer, as Europe has unquestionably been their focus the last couple years, touring to support Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk, building a following abroad while cementing a reputation domestically as they worked toward the making of Volume Rock itself.
Their second time working with producer/engineer John Naclerio at Nada Recording Studio in New York, Volume Rock is something of a manifesto for Valley of the Sun, who bring their influence further out of the post-Slo Burn desert across its span and into a spacious heavy rock that’s more the band’s own. They’ve been on that path for the last several years and have taken an important creative step in Volume Rock‘s tracks, but the key to the album is the energy of their delivery, which is where the two-minute blaster “The Hunt” comes in, racing top speed at the listener as the band — it may have just been Boyer and Ferrier on the recording, I honestly don’t know; they certainly sound like a full group either way — carefully weave their way through verses and choruses given fitting accompaniment in the new video for the track by animation of a caveman who gets his ass kicked by dinosaurs, invents a spear, takes a second to rock out to Ferrier‘s solo, and then completely wrecks the aforementioned dinosaurs, who are actually kind of cute, with spears to the head.
And yes, everyone knows cavemen and dinosaurs didn’t live at the same time. It’s a cartoon. Get over it.
More to come as we get closer to the April 29 release date for Volume Rock, but for today, I’m very happy to be able to host the premiere of the video for “The Hunt.” You can find it below, followed by some comment from Boyer on how it came together, and the preorder link for the record.
Valley of the Sun, “The Hunt” official video
Aaron Boyer on “The Hunt”:
“The video for ‘The Hunt’ was actually started before the song was even recorded. Ryan and I were working on writing for the new album and during a break he showed me a video on YouTube called Pizza Balls. It was basically a GIF of a piece of pizza with testicles that it would swing back and forth with techno music in the background. I was sold and immediately said, ‘We have to get whoever made this to do a video for us!’ I found the animator; a guy named Ari Grabb, and sent him an email. By this time we had started tracking for Volume Rock. We chose this song to do the video for, but at the time it had a working title of ‘Spear.’ I had Ari come up with the entire concept, and that initial working title for the track actually influenced the storyboard of the video. We approved the storyboards, paid the man, and received this wild caveman video a couple months later. It’s important to note that many, many dinosaurs were harmed during the making of this video.”
Volume Rock by Valley Of The Sun will be released on 29th April 2016 through Fuzzorama Records.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve got no problem getting down with some new Valley of the Sun. The Ohio-based heavy rockers made a bold statement with their 2014 debut full-length, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk (review here), in more than just its title, building on the efficiency of songwriting and righteous performances of their prior short releases and sustaining the vibe throughout the long-player without reservation. They nailed it, is what I’m saying. Totally nailed it.
They’ve got a follow-up coming this Spring called Volume Rock that’s available now to preorder through Pledge Music. Like the debut, it seems Volume Rock will eventually be out through Fuzzorama Records, but they basically have an avenue set up for direct-to-the-band support, and that’s not a bad idea either.
Valley of the Sun: Volume Rock – EARLY PRESALE
Hey everyone, Ryan and Aaron from Valley of the Sun here. We’ve got a new album coming out later this year, it’s called VOLUME ROCK. As the title suggests, it’s meant to be enjoyed loud–we wanted to make sure your neighbors, people in the car next to you, and that guy reading the newspaper on the train next to you hear it too.
We took a couple of years to write this thing because we wanted to get it right. We wanted to make a rock and roll album that stands out, songs that you can sing along to that have you banging your head at maximum velocity.
We think this is the best record we’ve ever recorded but we’ll let you be the judge of that. VOLUME ROCK is 9 tracks of rock fury that will officially come out 29 April, 2016. You can pre-order early and get some cool bonus content in the meantime. For example, the first video from the album can be seen here on Pledge before it’s premiered just by ordering. We’ll also make other updates with more exclusive content available only to those who pre-order here on Pledge.
Fuzzorama will have pre-orders up in the next couple of months that ship from Europe.
Posted in audiObelisk on June 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Over the last couple years, Kozmik Artifactz and its close cohort, Bilocation Records, have assembled one of the most enviable label rosters in the world for heavy rock and roll and psychedelia. Their commitment is to vinyl releases in limited quantities, and their stuff usually goes. It’s harder to get in the States with import prices, but their reach includes American acts like Ruby the Hatchet, Bison Machine, Valley of theSun, Space God Ritualand The Dirty Streets, all of whom are featured alongside European groups Somali Yacht Club (Ukraine), Earthmass (UK), Sonora Ritual (Germany) and Domadora (France) as well as Australia’s Child on the new 18-track Home of the Good Sounds Vol. 2 label sampler, which is out today.
With new music from The Heavy Eyes — “Somniloquy” is the first I’ve heard of their upcoming third LP, He Dreams of Lions — as well as Buzzard, the new project from Place of Skulls and Pentagram drummer “Minnesota” Pete Campbell, and UK trioMammothwing, the sampler should have no trouble piquing interest among the converted while more familiar cuts from The Kings of Frog Island and Valley of the Sun reinforce a solid mixtape feel. I won’t belabor the point that you’re probably about to spend a decent portion of your afternoon head-to-head with these songs — it’s 18 tracks, after all — but there’s a decent flow from one to the next and it’s clear the label was looking to do more than just toss together something haphazardly. Anyone who’s ever held a piece of their vinyl can probably tell you that’s not how they roll.
Plenty of variety, plenty of heavy, and some brand new stuff to preview what they have coming hopefully before the end of 2015, there’s really no way to lose. If nothing else, you can’t beat the price. Kozmik Artifactz was kind enough to let me announce the comp’s arrival, and you’ll find it on the player below, courtesy of their Bandcamp, followed by their official word on today’s release.
Kozmik Artifactz and Bilocation Records are very proud to offer to their new and old followers the second label compilation ‘Home of the good sounds – Vol. 2’. The sampler features 18 bands from all over the planet including 12 tracks that are not published on vinyl yet, three of them are exclusively to be heard here: new stuff from The Heavy Eyes from their forthcoming third album ‘He dreams of lions’, mighty Buzzard (featuring Pete Campbell from Pentagram) with ‘Is you Is’ and Mammothwing with a new track from their upcoming epic album ‘Morning light’.
Posted in Features on December 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Please note: These are not the results of the Readers Poll. That’s still going on. Please feel free to submit your list.
Making and releasing a first full-length album is a special moment in the life of any band, and that’s why I wanted to single out some of the best debuts of the year. I’ve never done this before, and so maybe with a top 10 I’m testing the waters a bit, but it seemed a worthwhile project anyway. It was a long (inner) debate about whether or not to include EPs and singles here too, but in the end, it just seemed to work better with albums.
Not to take anything away from shorter releases, but putting out a debut EP is much different than a debut LP. First of all, a debut LP can come after several EPs or singles or demos or whatever and still be considered first. What a first album says to the listener is, “Okay, we’ve come this far and we’re ready to take this step.” Some bands, once they start putting out albums, never go back to EPs. Others who’ve been around for 30 years still release demos every now and then, but even so, a group only ever gets one crack at their first album, and it can be one of the most important things we ever do.
Compared to how many come out any given month, year, century, etc., very few debut long-players ever wind up being classics, and who knows what the future might hold for any of these acts on this list, but that not knowing and that excitement are part of the fun.
Let’s get to it:
The Top 10 Debut Albums of 2014
1. The Well, Samsara
2. The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass
3. Spidergawd, Spidergawd
4. Atavismo, Desintegración
5. Blues Pills, Blues Pills
6. Steak, Slab City
7. Comet Control, Comet Control
8. Elephant Tree, Theia
9. Black Moon Circle, Black Moon Circle
10. Temple of Void, Of Terror and the Supernatural
A couple honorable mentions. First to Valley of the Sun‘s Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk, which I still didn’t know what to do with the release date for. Officially 2014, but kinda released in 2013 too. I was back and forth on it. Also Wasted Theory‘s burly debut, Monolord‘s Empress Rising, Child‘s Child, the Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart sprawling one-song LP from Sylvaine.
Some notes: Actual time spent listening played a big role in the structuring of this list. More so than the Top 30 of 2014, I would say. The Well‘s Samsara and the self-titled debut from The Golden Grass featured pretty high on that list as well, and that’s because both of them were records that I continually went back to and found satisfying after they came out. In both bands I think there’s significant stylistic potential, but more importantly, they both came out of the gate with their mission solidified and ready to roll.
With Spidergawd‘s Spidergawd, the progressive take on classic heavy rock boogie was blinding, but righteous. Their second album is due early next year on Stickman and I’ll have more on it to come in the weeks ahead. Atavismo‘s Desintegraciónhit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. Just four songs, but the atmosphere was gorgeous enough that after listening I went back and asked the band if I could host a stream in hopes that more people would hear it. Fortunately for anyone who listened, they were kind enough to comply.
On sheer impact alone, I think Blues Pills‘ Blues Pills warrants inclusion on this list, but in my own listening, I put on the top four so much more often that I couldn’t really justify placing it any higher. But in terms of a first album coming out and really propelling a band to the next level, I think for a lot of people it’s probably the debut of the year. Fair enough. Steak‘s Slab City found the London four-piece physically and stylistically right in the heart of the California desert and their passion for that place and its sound came across heartfelt on the recording, which only heightened the appeal.
And while I’m still sorry to see Quest for Fire go, the debut from offshoot Comet Control helped ease that sorrow neatly with a blend of driving heavier space rock and psychedelic vibing. Cool album, bodes well. You could say the same for Elephant Tree‘s Theia, I suppose. Their take on psychedelia melded with screamy sludge successfully where I think a lot of bands would’ve fallen flat trying the same thing, and that’s definitely something noteworthy in an initial offering, particularly one not preceded by an EP or other kind of release.
To round things out, two very different records. Black Moon Circle‘s self-titled took a popular stylistic course — melding heavy rock and psychedelic jamming — and showed the trio beginning to make it their own. That’s something I hope will continue on their second outing, which, like that of Spidergawd, is coming on quick early in 2015. And finally, Temple of Void‘s extreme, deathly take on doom courted genres smoothly and delivered its punishment with efficiency while holding together a coherent atmosphere of darkness and aggression. It was a sadistic joy to behold.
If you missed it, there were a couple debuts included on the Top 20 Short Releases of 2014 list as well — Gold & Silver, Wren, Death Alley, and so on — so if you’re looking for more of that kind of thing, you don’t have to look too far. I hope if there was a debut album this year that particularly caught your attention, you’ll let me know in the comments.
At best, this stuff is a crapshoot. Until something’s just about in your hand, you never really know when or if it’s going to come out. But they’re fun, and it’s exciting to think of good music being released, so you do it anyway. On the whole, I don’t think I did that badly between the two lists. Of course there was stuff that wasn’t anticipated — Colour Haze‘s new album, To the Highest Gods We Know, walks by and waves en route to its Dec. 15 release date — but for what we got, it worked out well.
That’s the general overview, but because I hold myself to a standard of accountability more rigorous than, say, my nation’s torture-happy secret police, here’s a full rundown of the list as it was, now (as then), presented alphabetically and with the titles listed as they were at the time:
42 of 2014’s Most Anticipated Albums — REVISITED!
1. Acid King, TBA: Word is Acid King‘s first in 10 years was mastered last month and will be out in Feb. 2015 on Svart.
2. Alcest, Shelter: Was way less post-black metal than their prior stuff, and I think it threw a lot of people off. Not a bad record (review here), but worked against lofty expectations.
3. All Them Witches, TBA: I remember including this because they said they were going back into the studio. Turned out they were recording the Effervescent EP/jam (review here). No regrets.
4. Alunah, TBA: Their new one was their Napalm Records debut, Awakening the Forest (review here). It was awesome. Score one for the list.
5. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance: Yeah, it was cheating to include this since I was there when it was recorded. Still a killer record though.
7. Conan, Blood Eagle: What does complete dominance sound like? Sounds like Conan to me.
8. Eggnogg, You’re all Invited: Was dying to hear what the Brooklyn trio came up with. No word on it yet.
9. Elder, Live at Roadburn 2013: Still don’t have a copy of this. Maybe I can pick one up when I get their forthcoming third studio album, Lore, out early next year.
10. 40 Watt Sun, TBA: More like “MIA” than TBA. Anyone heard from these guys?
11. The Golden Grass, TBA: Their self-titled debut (review here) was one of the finest first-albums I heard all year.
12. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes: Any Greenleaf is a treat. Trails and Passes (review here) was no exception.
13. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren: Solid follow-up (review here). Grifter‘s humor and lack of pretense serves them well.
14. Hull, TBA: Well, they had the Legend of the Swamp Goat single (review here) to coincide with their Euro tour. Waiting on the album.
15. Lowrider, TBA: I wouldn’t mind if this materialized right now. Or now. Or now. Or 2015. Or 2016.
16. The Machine, TBA: Might’ve jumped the gun on this. Hopefully in 2015.
17. Mars Red Sky, TBA: Easily one of the year’s best records. Stranded in Arcadia (review here) continues to get regular spins.
18. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty: A highlight of early 2014. Darker record (review here), but inarguable songwriting.
19. Mr. Peter Hayden, Archdimension Now: Fitting end to their trilogy and hopefully not their last outing.
20. Pallbearer, TBA: Their Foundations of Burden has topped year-end lists already. It’s still on my desktop. I’ve barely listened to it.
21. Papir, IIII: Very, very good. They seem to be developing, but IIII (review here) was a satisfying chronicle.
22. Pilgrim, TBA: Can’t say II: Void Worship (review here) wasn’t a win for the band since they did a month on the road with Spirit Caravan. Maybe overshadowed by more recent stuff, but a quality record.
23. Radio Moscow, Magical Dirt: Their incendiary heavy blues was in top form on Magical Dirt (review here). Glad I got to see them live once or twice (or 18 times) as well this year.
24. Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today: Also residing on my desktop. A vocalist switch caught me off guard and I feel like I still haven’t given it a fair shot.
25. Sixty Watt Shaman, TBA: Really? I had Sixty Watt on the list? That seems ambitious. No doubt they’ll have something new eventually, but that was a pretty high expectation it would be out this year.
26. Skraeckoedlan, Gigantos: If this came out, no one told me. Seems like not yet.
27. The Skull, TBA: A stunner. As much as I looked forward to it, For Those Which are Asleep (review here) exceeded the excitement.
28. Sleep, TBA: Included as wishful thinking. Their The Clarity single (review here) was something to celebrate.
29. Slough Feg, Digital Resistance: I was really looking forward to this one. Kind of fell off with Digital Resistance (review here) after a while. Hard to argue with Slough Feg though.
30. Snail, Feral: Waiting on it for 2015.
31. Steak, TBA: The London four-piece followed two strong EPs with Slab City(review here), as heartfelt a showing of desert rock loyalty as I’ve heard.
Damn, this was a long list.
32. Stubb, TBA: I had my doubts it would arrive, but Stubb‘s Ripple Music debut, Cry of the Ocean (review here), found welcome when it did.
33. SunnO))) & Ulver, Terrestrials: One of two collaborations SunnO))) would have out in 2014. Heard a lot about it at the beginning of the year. Less now.
34. Tombs, Savage Gold: Good band, doing interesting stuff. I have a hard time transitioning from appreciating it to actually being a fan.
35. Triptykon, Melana Chasmata: Sorry, but when Tom G. Warrior puts out a record, you hop to. I didn’t review it to save myself having to buy a copy, but dug it anyway.
36. Truckfighters, Universe: I feel like this one picked up steam as the year went on. I didn’t go back to it as much as its predecessor, but Universe (review here) was a logical next step for them.
37. Valley of the Sun, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk: Nothing to complain about with the Ohio three-piece’s debut (review here) or the effort they put into supporting it throughout the year.
38. Weedeater, TBA: Nope. At least I knew it at the time.
39. Wolves in the Throne Room, TBA: Surprised a lot of people when Celestite (review here) was a companion piece for their last record instead of a new album proper, myself included.
40. The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum: 2014 was quite a year for doom, and The Wounded Kings were right there at the start. This lineup may be gone, but Consolamentum (review here) holds up.
41. Yawning Man, Gravity is Good for You: Rumor is guitarist Gary Arce has a few projects in the works for next year. Not sure if this is one of them or not.
42. YOB, TBA: We certainly know how this worked out, don’t we? If the votes in the Readers Poll are anything to go by, yes. Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here) was a landmark, and this won’t be the last year-end list around here on which YOB make a showing.
The list from July had a few winners on it as well — Apostle of Solitude, Blues Pills, Bongripper, Brant Bjork, Earth, Lo-Pan, The Well, Witch Mountain, etc. — but I think we’ve probably got enough as it is.
With the year starting to wind down, I’ll be putting together my Top 30 Albums of 2014 in the next week or so. Please keep an eye out for that, and thanks for reading.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
So, get this. In the span of eight days — just over a week’s time — Ohio trio Valley of the Sun will get to play Desertfest Belgium, share the stage with the likes of Conan, Monkey3and Mars Red Sky, and then go play the Keep it Low festival in Munich. I’m sure the rest of the tour — which is their second run in Europe this year, by the way — will be awesome as well, but that’s a hard stretch to beat right there. Think of it in terms of “good weeks you’ve had,” and I think you’ll probably see what I mean.
Cool times for the Cincinnati three-piece after issuing their Fuzzorama Records debut LP, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk(review here), in Europe at the start of the year and in the US over the summer. After a somewhat lengthy process getting the album into public hands and ears, all the better that they get to enjoy the fruits of their labors (which, incidentally are just more labor, but awesome labor).
Dates as follow:
VALLEY OF THE SUN TO EUROPE AGAIN!!!
WE promised you an update with tourdates for the hardhitting OHIO trio, here you go! The band promise some new merch so don’t miss the shows ;)
Alright hard rockers, got a list of tour dates and links for you. Some off dates are still in the works so keep checking for updates, but here’s what’s on the books so far:
10.10.14 Antwerp, BE Desert Fest 11.10.14 Oelsnitz, GE Ragga 12.10.14 Berlin, GE Bassy Club with Mars Red Sky 13.10.14 Hamburg, GE Hafenklang with Conan 14.10.14 TBD 15.10.14 Jena, GE Kulturbahnhof with monkey3 16.10.14 Cologne, GE Sonic Ballroom 17.10.14 Frankfurt, GE Sky High Festival 18.10.14 Munich, GE Keep It Low – Festival (afternoon set) 18.10.14 Siegen, GE VORTEX Musikclub (evening set) 19.10.14 TBD 20.10.14 TBD 21.10.14 Pratteln, CH Z7 with Monkey3 22.10.14 Karlsruhe, GE Alte Hackerei with Monkey3 23.10.14 Lucerne, CH The Bruch Brothers 24.10.14 Innsbruck, AUS TBD 25.10.14 Brescia, ITA Latteria 26.10.14 TBD 27.10.14 Strasbourg, FR Mudd MuddClub 28.10.14 TBD 29.10.14 Dresden, GE Ost Pol 30.10.14 Cottbus, GE Blue Moon Festival 31.10.14 TBD 01.11.14 Munster, GE Rare guitar