audiObelisk Transmission 040

Posted in Podcasts on September 26th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

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This one’s beamed in from a universe of all good times. I don’t want to walk around tooting my own horn like I actually did anything, but you’ll pardon me if I say that once you get on board here, you might not want to jump back off. The flow is up and down, alternately drawn out and rushing, and right up to the last song which is a bit of a return to earth, the second hour is the most spaced out it’s ever been around these parts. I’m way into it. I hope you’re way into it.

Like last time, I tried to get a mix of excellent stuff upcoming with other recent items you might’ve missed. One of these days I’m gonna do another one of these where I talk, but this is straight-up track into track the whole way through and I think it moves really well that way. Please feel free to grab a download or hit the stream and dig in and enjoy.

First Hour:
The Melvins, “Sesame Street Meat” from Hold it In (2014)
Fever Dog, “One Thousand Centuries” from Second Wind (2014)
Lo-Pan, “Eastern Seas” from Colossus (2014)
Witchrider, “Black” from Unmountable Stairs (2014)
Alunah, “Awakening the Forest” from Awakening the Forest (2014)
Craang, “Magnolia” from To the Estimated Size of the Universe (2014)
Slow Season, “Shake” from Mountains (2014)
Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds, “Guillotine” from The Shining One (2014)
The Proselyte, “Irish Goodbye” from Our Vessel’s in Need (2014)
Flood, “Lake Nyos” from Oak (2014)
Lord, “Golgotha” from Alive in Golgotha (2014)

Second Hour:
My Brother the Wind, “Garden of Delights” from Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One (2014)
Spidergawd, “Empty Rooms” from Spidergawd (2014)
The Myrrors, “Whirling Mountain Blues” from Solar Collector (2014)
Witch Mountain, “Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn)” from Mobile of Angels (2014)

Total running time: 1:54:28

 

Thank you for listening.

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VINYL WEEK: Flood, Oak

Posted in On Wax on September 19th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Five years after making their debut on MeteorCity with the cave-riffed 2009 first album, Native (review here), San Francisco stoner plod trio Flood reemerge with Oak, their second long-player. Released by Volcom as a 12″ platter with green-swirl vinyl, it’s the second time the label and band have worked together behind a 2010 split with Wildildlife that included the track “The Gate to the Temple of the Ocean King.” That track doesn’t appear on Native or either of Oak‘s two sides, but as the six included tracks show, it’s not exactly like Flood are short on riffs. Some of their methods are consistent on Oak — as with the first album, they earn immediate points by opening hereSide A. with the longest track, “Perihelion,” though it’s worth noting that at just under 11 minutes, it’s still considerably trimmed down from “Aphelion”‘s 18:29. The two titles relating to orbital positions of planets in relation to the stars around which they’re revolving — perihelion is the closest point, aphelion the farthest — the two seem to be in direct conversation with each other, the newer track answering the lumbering thud of the older one with its own stomp and rumble, vocals echoing over slower riffing that picks up after about halfway through, if momentarily, to remind that somewhere along the line, Flood picked up a Fu Manchu influence.

The two-part “Holy Astro Shaman” follows on side A, and side B continues the heavy roll with “Beryllus” (also the longest song on its side at 8:14), “Baphomet Sermon” and “Lake Nyos,” proffering distortion largesse, echoing shouts and resonating percussive march in a post-Mastodon stoner metal with deep-running Sabbath/Sleep elements. The recording on Oak is rawer than was Native — the newer LP tracked by Bart Thurber at House of Faith Studio in Oakland — but in a way that sounds probably closer to Flood‘s live show and that brings out an extra edge from the material. In any case, the sound remains clear enough for the three-piece of guitarist Fozzy, bassist/vocalist Eli and drummer Fink to get their weighty message through. Side B.Periodic tempo shifts, as those in “Perihelion” and “Holy Astro Shaman Pt. II,” go a long way in changing up the feel. Longer than it might at first seem, even, since so much of what Flood does is consistent in its push and focus on tone, riffs, groove, but the two-part “Holy Astro Shaman” enacts a solid build across its span and, paying off that build about halfway into its second part, uses the remainder to explore a drum-led jam that fades out to cap side A.

Side B starts “Beryllus” with feedback and more consume-the-room riffing, a long Dopesmoker-style drum build opening not to riotous explosive heaviness, but to more jamming exploration prior to the first verse. Flood don’t sound like a patient band, but they are, albeit in a subtle way.  Throaty vocals shouting from deep in the mix, the guitar and bass work well together across the Side B opener, which gives way to the familiar chugging of “Baphomet Sermon,” which breaks in the middle with some highlight bass work from Eli, but otherwise sticks mostly to its central riff, leaving some atmospheric vocals to do the work of distinguishing it in the first half while arriving at a verse only later on, when the rollout is more established. Closer “Lake Nyos,” which takes its name from a body of water in Cameroon on top of a volcano that, in 1986, emitted a cloud of carbon dioxide responsible for the deaths of 1,700 people, starts with an appropriate sense of foreboding, the bass and drums setting a doomed ambienceFLOOD-OAK-BACK-COVER to be joined soon enough by the guitar, a siren in the background signaling the transition into the next stage of the build that will run a line throughout its seven minute runtime, Eli‘s vocals cave-shouting from under the guitar and bass while Fink‘s fills shift between slow-moving measures, leading to a gradual disintegration. The guitar and bass chug out, the drums thud, and Flood‘s Oak caps its final movement with a couple last hits and a quick shot of feedback.

Working greatly in the band’s favor is their utter lack of pretense. Flood did not take five years to put out their second record because they were trying to conquer the world or write a progressive masterpiece. They got around to it when they got around to it. That wouldn’t work for everyone, but it suits them and what they do, keeping their approach relatively simple while adding flourish in moments of experimentation without losing track of the heaviness they’re looking to convey. Dudes riffing out. I don’t know what it was that took them so long to get the album together, but Oak shows — like a second debut, almost — that Flood‘s worship continues to provide a fix for those who might need one. It’s the kind of heavy that makes squares show their corners.

Flood, Oak (2014)

Flood on Thee Facebooks

Volcom Entertainment on Bandcamp

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audiObelisk: Dirty Fences Premiere “White Lies” from Too High to Kross; Shows with The Shrine and Turbonegro

Posted in audiObelisk on April 5th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Bouncing fuzzy grooves off classic Stooges and the Misfits of old, Brooklyn garage punkers Dirty Fences keep it simple and straightforward on their Too High to Kross full-length. The four-piece will issue Too High to Kross this coming Tuesday, April 9 on Volcom, and to herald its coming, I’ve been allowed to premiere the song “White Lies” from the album. Timing is everything.

To that end, Dirty Fences seem to have the timing just about nailed. The record — and at a vinyl-ready 32 minutes, it is a record — makes no bones about its appreciation for early punk, basking in natural tones (perhaps I’m destined to be a sucker forever for punk with the bass turned up) while affiliating themselves with that moment in time where American heavy became punk rock, a track like “Under Your Leather” not at all void of melody while the following “King’s Cross” reminds of just how pop-minded the Ramones were, as iconoclastic as their outerwear may have been.

Songs on Too High to Kross rarely touch three minutes, and at a trim 2:29, “White Lies” is a solid example of Dirty Fences‘ underlying grooviness, hinting that there’s more to them than Raw Power fetishizing even as it affirms a modern swagger à la Eagles of Death Metal‘s chic, laconic impressions. Oh yeah, and it’s catchy as fuck too, with backing vocals in the chorus and a steady snare beat that’s as universal as it is familiar and inviting. And in that, it’s a pretty good summation of Dirty Fences‘ general ethic, since although they lean to one side or another sonically along the way, “catchy as fuck” is something that seems to follow them wherever they go.

Check out “White Lies” by Dirty Fences on the player below, and please enjoy:

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Dirty Fences‘ Too High to Kross LP is out Tuesday on Volcom. Celebrating the release, Dirty Fences are playing in Los Angeles tonight, April 5, at the Lyric Theatre in La Brea with The Shrine (with whom they’ve toured in the past as well and with whom they seem to share a high-topped skaterly vibe), CBG and Strangelove, whom I’ve never heard but automatically like just based on their name. Behold the flyer:

Fret not, East Coasters. Dirty Fences will be back this way in time to kick it with Turbonegro at Irving Plaza in Manhattan on May 18. More info at the links below.

Dirty Fences on Thee Facebooks

Dirty Fences on Bandcamp

Volcom Entertainment

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At a Glance: Tweak Bird, Undercover Crops

Posted in Reviews on November 7th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Tweak Bird‘s Undercover Crops EP (Volcom) is about as modern as you get without actually being from the future. Like the L.A.-by-way-of-Illinois brotherly two-piece’s last outing — a 2010 self-titled full-length debut — Undercover Crops pairs fuzzed-out baritone guitar and percussive crash with classic pop harmonies, resulting in a friendly maelstrom much bolstered by the production of Toshi Kasai (Big Business) and Dale Crover (Melvins). That duo also helmed the self-titled, and Tweak Bird has toured with both the Melvins and Big Business in the interim, among others.

Both Ashton and Caleb Bird provide vocals and on the 16-minute offering’s seven tracks, they bask in sunshiny harmonies, nodding at Revolver-era Beatles even as “Psychorain”‘s distorted heft feels born of early Mastodon. Their blend has been done to near-perfection for years by Torche, but Tweak Bird‘s harmonies are strong, their approach more jagged, and the 1:57 opener “Moans” — which is just the words “Everyone is paranoid” on loop over electronic beats — adds experimental edge, if also an offputting first impression. Cuts like “People” and “The Weight” are blissful, however, and for as stylized as Tweak Bird are, there’s an identity at play in the songs as well.

“Bunch o’ Brains” in particular reminds of Kylesa‘s churning crunch, but at just 16 minutes, it’s not like Undercover Crops really sticks around long enough to become redundant — unless, say, you put it on seven or eight times in a row to review it — and lines like, “So many people in the world/I don’t wanna be one” from “People” give a sense of individual personality. Being so short also helps keep the component songs away from pomposity, which they seem at times on the verge of falling into, as though if the tracks were any longer they’d realize how smart they are and totally lose their appeal. Fortunately it’s not an issue, and the band’s grindcore wristwatch serves them ably.

They are relatively young and relatively prolific, so there’s about zero chance this will be the last we hear from them — not that it can’t happen, but it’s hard to break up with your brother — and whatever familiarities Undercover Crops might bring to mind, I’d check out Tweak Bird‘s follow-up without reservation. They’ll be too hip for some and too poppy for others, but between the harmonies and the surprising amount of atmosphere they manage to pack into “The Weight” in just over two minutes, there’s more to their songwriting than the superficial and/or stylistic trappings might lead one to believe.

Tweak Bird’s website

Volcom Entertainment

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