Posted in Whathaveyou on July 13th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
This September, Ohio heavy rockers Valley of the Sun continue their Euro-minded focus with a tour supporting their latest album, Volume Rock (review here). That record, released by Fuzzorama, has come out since the band was last on European turf earlier this Spring, and not that it necessarily needed to, but it reaffirmed Valley of the Sun‘s general kickassness, marking the next step in the progression of their songwriting while holding onto the crisp presentation that has made their work to-date so refreshing sounding.
They’ll team up with Parisian rockers Dot legacy — who from what I hear have a new album of their own currently in progress — for the tour, which is presented by Total Volume Agency. Whenever it might arrive, their next outing will be the follow-up to their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), which was issued on Setalight Records.
Valley of the Sun offered some comment on heading abroad once again. Find that followed by the dates below:
“We’re really excited to be headed back to Europe to continue the support of our latest album, Volume Rock, hitting a lot of territories we missed last Spring. We’re equally as excited that our good friends in Dot Legacy will be along for the ride!” — Valley of the Sun.
Tour booked by Total Volume Agency: 22/09 UK Manchester / Rebellion 23/09 UK London / TBA 24/09 UK Bristol / TBA 26/09 AVAILABLE 27/09 BE Malle / Jeugdhuis Babylon 28/09 BE Gent / Kinky Star 29/09 FR Caen / La Demeurée 30/09 FR Nantes / La Scène Michelet 01/10 FR Paris / Espace B 03/10 FR Poitiers / Le Cluricaume 04/10 CH Olten / Le Coq d’Or *EXCLUSIVE SWISS SHOW* 05/10 AVAILABLE 06/10 DE Berlin / Urban Spree 07/10 DE Halle (Saale) / Rockpool eV 08/10 DE Chemnitz / Zukunft 09/10 AVAILABLE 11/10 RO Cluj-Napoca / The Shelter 12/10 RO Bucharest / Fabrica Club 13/10 BG Sofia / Mixtape 14/10 GR / TBC 15/10 GR Athens / Death Disco
Valley Of The Sun: Aaron Boyer – Drums Ringo Jones – Bass Chris Harrison – Guitar Ryan Ferrier – Guitar, Vocals
Try to stay with me on this one. Last weekend was Maryland Doom Fest 2016. I drove down from Massachusetts last Friday to Frederick, MD, for it with The Patient Mrs., dropping her off first at family friends’ outside of Baltimore. We had her car, which, on Sunday, died in the parking spot outside the venue and had to be towed to a garage to receive a new alternator. Okay. That’s step one.
Step two: I had to get back to Massachusetts on Monday to start my new job on Tuesday. As her car would not be ready in time, The Patient Mrs. rented another vehicle and came and picked me up in Frederick and north we went. The repair would end up costing $900, but I made it to work on Tuesday and all went well, so it could’ve been much worse. The snag was that her car remained in that garage in Frederick and the rental would also need to be returned to Maryland, so looming all week was this impending journey back down I-95/I-78 to swap out cars again.
My job is in Rhode Island and gets out early on Fridays. 1PM. After swinging through Frederick to get her car and dropping off the rental, we got to where we were staying Friday night at 11PM. Between that, the fact that I’d survived my first week at a new job while still feeling positive about the experience, and the likewise impending trip back north, there was basically zero fucking chance I wasn’t going to The Sound Garden in Baltimore to do some serious-business record shopping before we hit the road.
So that was Saturday morning. My foot still screwed up, I hobbled toward the Psychedelic section (which had moved since last I was there) and started grabbing discs. Some new, some old, some in between, but The Sound Garden is arguably the best record store I’ve been to on the Eastern Seaboard — my heart will always hold a place for Vintage Vinyl in NJ, of course — so I knew I was going to find plenty.
I don’t record shop the way I used to. It used to be constant, a snag-this-snag-that process to put CDs on the shelf. I’m a little less likely to find stuff now, buy more online and direct from bands, and so on, but though I couldn’t really walk in the early part of the day, I still very much enjoyed digging through the rows to see what there was that needed to get bought. Turned out I did fine:
Maria Bamford, Ask Me About My New God! Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae Causa Sui, Return to Sky Comet Control, Center of the Maze Conan, Revengeance Death, For all the World to See Earthless / Harsh Toke, Split Flower Travellin’ Band, Satori Graves at Sea, The Curse that is Graves at Sea Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Noeth ac Anoeth The Meters, Look-Ka Py Py Monolithe, Epsilon Aurigae The Motherhood, I Feel so Free The Peace, Black Power The Pretty Things, S.F. Sorrow Valley of the Sun, Volume Rock
Some of that was stuff I had to own on principle. How often do you run into a US-based store with El Paraiso Records distribution? Causa Sui, then, was a must. I was likewise surprised and thrilled to see Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and Monolithe, so those were musts. The Death record (and documentary) was recently re-recommended to me from a trusted source, so I figured I’d grab that, and then stuff like Graves at Sea, the Earthless / Harsh Toke split, Comet Control, Valley of the Sun and Beastmaker were records I’d written about that I wanted physical copies of anyway. I’m about 80 percent sure I already have a copy of the latest Conan. but thought I’d get it while I was there, and if I wound up with a double, worse things have certainly happened.
From the aforementioned Psychedelic section, a couple treasures in Flower Travellin’ Band‘s Satori, which was also the first of the haul I put on, its hard-thudding krautrock-inspired proggy proto-metal enough to gloriously alienate a room, and The Pretty Things‘ concept album S.F. Sorrow, and The Motherhood‘s I Feel so Free — all ’70s-era outings. The Funk/Soul section yielded The Peace and The Meters, and Comedy/Spoken Word the Maria Bamford, which I picked up in no small part because her show on Netflix, Lady Dynamite, is so remarkably brilliant. If you haven’t yet watched it, do so immediately.
By the time I got through finding Monolithe, Graves at Sea and Beastmaker in the metal section to grabbing the Death record as I walked past it on my way to the register, I was feeling considerable discomfort at standing on my right foot, which was in the same supportive cast — I call it “das boot,” well aware that the actual German word means “boat” — I had on at the fest last weekend. That put something of a rush on the tail end of the shopping experience as I needed to get somewhere I could sit down, but while I probably could’ve spent a few more hours dicking around at The Sound Garden, I don’t at all feel like I missed anything except perhaps a t-shirt from the store, which I’ll grab next time, and for a trip that was made under less than ideal circumstances, I definitely felt as I walked out that I’d made the best of the time I had.
There are all kinds of record shop ratings out there, but if you happen to be in Fells Point or the greater region, The Sound Garden really is one of the best stores I’ve ever been to, and it continues to be a destination in my mind for when I’m around. It made the long drive back north that much easier to endure, which is saying something in itself.
Posted in Reviews on June 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Perhaps it’s hard to believe Cincinnati riffers Valley of the Sun are only on their second LP because the band came out of the gate so assured in their approach. Since their early going with a 2010 demo and the 2011 EP The Sayings of the Seers (review here), the group — with the core duo of guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier and drummer Aaron Boyer now joined by bassist Ringo Jones and guitarist Chris Harrison — have given the impression of knowing exactly what kind of band they want to be. Some groups flounder early, finding themselves, and I won’t knock that, but through The Sayings of the Seers and the 2014 debut LP, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk (review here), Valley of the Sun have left no question as to their intent.
They excel at delivering driving, fuzzed-out heavy rock and roll marked by quality songwriting, clever shifts in tempo and feel, and a crispness to their presentation. Their second album, Volume Rock — out, like the debut, on Fuzzorama Records — continues the thread and brings a new batch of material that has already seen them back on the road in Europe, growing their reputation among US riff exports. Like its predecessor, Volume Rock traffics in air-tight structures and demonstrates a clear sense of control on the part of the band — it may or may not have been recorded with just Ferrier and Boyer, I don’t know; they’re the only ones in the pictures — who begin by showing something of a playful side with stick clicks at the start of opener “Eternal Forever” before unfolding a varied but uniformly well executed push of riffs and desert-style vibes.
“Eternal Forever” is an energetic launch to Volume Rock, immediately earning the album’s title, but also a setup when taken in combination with the subsequent two tracks, “Wants and Needs” and the shorter “The Hunt” (video premiere here). All three are barnburners, Valley of the Sun careening at top or near-top speeds through, building momentum as the hook of “Eternal Forever” and the handclaps in “Wants and Needs” and Ferrier‘s vocals leave impressions behind from the blur. That momentum hits a peak with “The Hunt,” which is perhaps the most efficient inclusion here at a speedy, lean 2:19, but it pairs with “Land of Fools,” the longest cut at 5:45 which reimagines the central start-stop rhythm of Truckfighters‘ “Monte Gargano” during its verse and signals a clear shift into Volume Rock‘s next phase.
There’s an instrumental bridge in the second half, but much of the additional runtime comes just from Valley of the Sun riding the chorus, which they’re right to do. The entire track is a hook, and one of the record’s best, and followed by the slower, bigger-sounding “I Breathe the Earth,” which enacts its nod early and doesn’t let go for its duration, weaving through solos early and late amid well-positioned verses, non-lyric vocals following the riff, and call and response thrust along by Boyer‘s crash. Momentum from the opening salvo continues to carry Valley of the Sun forward, even as they begin to push outward from the directness of, say, “Wants and Needs,” but anyplace they go, they never fail to invite the listener along for the trip, and that accessibility proves to be one of Volume Rock‘s greatest strengths.
In accordance with that, Volume Rock is also the most identifiable as themselves that Valley of the Sun has ever sounded. Their beginnings drew heavily from tipping a balance to one side or another of Kyuss and Fu Manchu, and Ferrier‘s vocals still have some of that John Garcia gut-push, but the subtle shift of these elements into something more of the band’s own is evident in the starts and stops and melody of “Speaketh the Shaman,” a mid-paced, catchy groover that opens fluidly in its chorus. The roots from which they’re working are still discernible, but no less discernible is what Valley of the Sun are adding of themselves to that mix. “Beneath the Veil” returns to the kick-in-the-ass ethic of the album’s start, leading to a gradual slowdown with “Solstice” and “Empty Visions,” which closes out on a note akin to “Breathe the Earth,” but suitably placed as the finale for Volume Rock as a whole.
As they make their way out with one last hook brought to its apex, Valley of the Sun offer reinforcement of their progression, the soul in their approach that’s there despite its clean presentation, and the utter lack of pretense that has defined them for the last six years. When I first heard The Sayings of the Seers, I tagged them as having the potential to be one of the best of an upcoming generation of heavy rock. They’ve had lineup shifts since then and have turned their focus toward touring Europe exclusively, but in terms of the quality of their material, the raw craftsmanship of it, they continue to excel. And at this point, still just two albums deep, it only seems fair to expect no less.
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’.