Friday Full-Length: Stone Axe, I

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Those who cite retro heavy rock as a European-only phenomenon have obviously never dug into Stone Axe‘s 2009 debut, Stone Axe I. The album, with its striking, vinyl-ready cover art and 10-track/38-minute run, was created with the express mission of paying homage to heavy ’70s rock and roll. And that’s precisely what it did, capturing the warmth of production and a live-in-the-studio feel that remains one of the best American executions of the style regardless of the band’s seemingly permanent dissolution. With the hooks of songs like “Black Widow,” opener “Riders of the Night,” “The Skylah Rae” and “There’d Be Days,” Stone Axe proffered memorable craft the whole time through, keeping a mellow groove beneath even its most active moments despite changes in instrumentation and mood. Live, the band included the rhythm section of bassist Mike DuPont and drummer Mykey Haslip, but in the studio it was just vocalist Dru Brinkerhoff and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Tony Reed.

If the latter name is familiar, it should be. Reed partnered with Brinkerhoff and launched Stone Axe after putting his prior outfit, Mos Generator, to rest in indefinite-hiatus style following 2007’s Songs for Future Gods, which, like Stone Axe I, was released through Roadburn Records. Mos Generator‘s own classic heavy rock influence was one thing, but Stone Axe brought it to another level entirely. Listening to the Led Zeppelin-style blast of “Sky is Falling” and the telltale Thin Lizzy bounce of the subsequent “There’d Be Days” — as well as that in closer “Taking Me Home” — Stone Axe did nothing to mask the direct lines they drew to titans of ’70s heavy, in the Mellotron finish of “My Darkest Days” and the infuriatingly catchy blues rocker “Black Widow,” the band evoked a sense of melancholy beneath a harder-driving atmosphere, but the album never lost its sense of class either in theme or delivery. “The Skylah Rae” told a tale of humans leaving Earth on a giant ship that shared its name with the title, and side B brought about some considerable turns in momentum, whether it was the boogie of “Rhinoceros” or the swagger of “Diamonds and Fools.” Penultimate groover “Return of the Worm” brought a perfectly-paced rhythmic nod to bear and topped it with Brinkerhoff‘s boozy vocals, which were no less classic than any other element put to use, be it instrument or production. The dude absolutely killed on vocals. Just nailed it.

And in many ways, it’s the Brinkerhoff/Reed partnership that’s essential to understand when it comes to Stone Axe. stone axe iConsider that, at that point, Reed was coming off playing guitar and handling vocals in Mos Generator, and that he was also prone to not only recording the band’s albums but releasing them as well. I don’t know who penned the lyrics for Stone Axe, but even if he did, for Reed to step out of the frontman position and relinquish that to anyone else must have been a significant sacrifice for a band that was still ostensibly his as he was writing the songs and playing guitar, bass, drums and whatever else. Stone Axe was a significant turn away from Mos Generator precisely because Reed brought Brinkerhoff on board as the vocalist in order to better capture that classic rock feel, which, again Brinkerhoff‘s voice seemed to be made to bring to life.

And speaking of life, how about those live-recorded tracks on Stone Axe I, huh? Well, no. It would’ve been impossible with just Reed handling all the instruments. Natural sounding cuts like “My Darkest Days” and “Diamonds and Fools,” that easy groove in “Black Widow” and “The Skylah Rae” would’ve had to have been tracked one instrument at a time — probably the drums first, then bass, guitar and whatever keys after. Then Brinkerhoff would be able to sing over the final tracks. Yet Stone Axe I in no way sounds pieced together in this way. It sounds like players in a room hashing it out. Stone Axe I did a better job capturing a live feel than a lot of albums that are recorded live, and it’s a credit to Reed as a producer that that was the case. The material lends itself to an organic vibe, to be sure, but it would’ve been easy for the songs to come out staid and lifeless, and they’re anything but.

Like its 2010 follow-up, Stone Axe II (review here), Stone Axe I was reissued via Ripple Music after Reed signed with the label in 2010. I got to write the liner notes for the second record. A slew of releases were hinted at in that announcement, including a third full-length — which at one point they even started writing — but the band’s last studio outing would be a split with Germany’s Wight on Fat & Holy Records in 2012, the same year Ripple put out both Stone Axe‘s Captured Live! Roadburn Festival 2011 and Mos Generator‘s return long-player, Nomads (review here), the success of which effectively relaunched that band, which would go on to revamp its lineup and become the full-time touring act they remain until now. In the meantime, Reed channeled his love of classic heavy into a solo covers release called The Lost Chronicles of Heavy Rock, Vol. 1 in 2015, which he’s newly pressed onto CD ahead of a quick run of Midwestern Mos Generator shows next month that will take them to the Stoned Meadow of Doom festival.

Though a third Stone Axe album would never manifest, it’s somehow all the more fitting that, like so much of the ’70s heavy rock movement that inspired them it would be somewhat cut short only to have the two albums go on to become cult classics as they have and no doubt will continue to do. Would I ever say never on a Stone Axe resurgence? Never. But with Mos Generator topping tour bills and playing gigs like the Main Stage at Hellfest in France, one could hardly argue Reed‘s time continues to be anything other than well spent. Stone Axe was what it was, and I’m glad there are the records to document that, because it’s worth preserving.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Goodness gracious. Was it enough week for you? It was definitely enough for me. I feel like my head’s still spinning from the Quarterly Review. I have a ritual I undertake every time I finish one of those where I clear the folders off my desktop — they go in my Albums folder — and delete the header because I’m not going to use it again, and I don’t even think I have the energy to do it. Maybe tomorrow, though probably not.

My plan for tonight is to go see Sasquatch at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. I’m hemming and hawing and of course everything depends on the baby, so we’ll see. If I leave at seven I’ll get to Brooklyn by 9, blah blah blah. I’m keeping my fingers crossed I can get my ass out of the house. Tomorrow morning it’s a drive north to Connecticut and then seeing Backwoods Payback in New London. Then Sunday it’s back to New York for Bible of the Devil. As of right now I want to hit all three shows. Next weekend I want to do the same thing. Three shows, three nights in a row, and then that’s probably my quota for the rest of the year, surprise YOB gigs if there are any and Psycho Las Vegas notwithstanding.

Depending on what I actually get to — this is an ambitious plan, I recognize — is the schedule for next week, but here’s the notes as they stand now:

Mon.: Sasquatch live review/Arcadian Child premiere.
Tue.: Backwoods Payback live review; CB3 video premiere.
Wed.: Bible of the Devil live review; Lurk track premiere.
Thu.: Sergio Ch. video premiere.
Fri. Forming the Void premiere/review.

That’s a lot of live reviews for one week. Feels like even more coming off a Quarterly Review. But again, I’m going to try. If it doesn’t pan out, there are always plenty of albums to be written up.

Thanks for reading this week if you did, and either way, please have a great and safe weekend. Maybe I’ll see you at a show. I hope so.

All the best. Forum and Radio.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Year of the Cobra Sign to Prophecy Productions for New Album in 2019; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

On the heels of their 2017 EP, Burn Your Dead (review here), Seattle duo Year of the Cobra toured Europe this past Spring, and they must’ve made a hell of an impression, as they’ve newly been picked up by respected German purveyor Prophecy Productions — which this year hosts its first-ever Prophecy Fest US in Brooklyn, which the band will also play — for the 2019 release of a new album to be produced by… wait for it… Jack frickin’ Endino. This after working with Billy frickin’ Anderson. Year of the Cobra certainly know how to pick ’em.

While I take a second to slap Year of the Cobra right into the notes for 2019’s most anticipated releases, I’ll also send heartfelt kudos and congratulations to the two-piece on the signing. Can’t wait to hear their new record as their ongoing ascent is sure to continue.

The PR wire makes it official, and as they will, Year of the Cobra also have tour dates coming up including the Stoned Meadow of Doom Festival in Omaha, Nebraska, on Aug. 12. Dig:

year of the cobra tour

PROPHECY PRODUCTIONS ANNOUNCES SIGNING OF SEATTLE STONER DOOM DUO YEAR OF THE COBRA

It is with great honor that Prophecy Productions announces the signing of Seattle’s heavyweight stoner doom duo, Year of the Cobra.

Formed in 2015, Year of the Cobra became a rapidly ascending, radiant star in the horizon of the doom/stoner-scene for a reason: This powerhouse duo, consisting of Amy Tung Barrysmith (vocals/ bass) and Jon Barrysmith (drums), use their limitation in instrumentation to their advantage. Leaving space for every instrument to breathe and to shine, they create a vast, larger than life sound aesthetic. Their songs drift relentlessly from classic epic doom laments into oppressive heavy riff architecture; from catchy, almost upbeat rock moments into transfiguring psychedelia.

In 2016, just a year and one EP into their career, Year of the Cobra released their full-length debut, …in the Shadows Below. Using the natural, three-dimensional and massively heavy production of Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Sleep) they present themselves as an unbelievably mature and confident band who knows exactly what they want. Following their sophomore EP Burn Your Dead, they had successful tours of Europe and the US, playing a number of well-known festivals along the way, including Psycho Las Vegas, Freak Valley Festival, and Stoned Meadow of Doom. They are currently working on new material for their 2019 follow-up full length with legendary engineer/producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Tad, Soundgarden), and are confirmed to play the inaugural Prophecy Fest USA, taking place this November at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory.

Year of the Cobra Tour Dates:
7/27 – Seattle, WA. – The Funhouse
7/31 – Sacramento, CA. – Blue Lamp
8/1 – San Francisco, CA. – Elbo Room
8/2 – San Jose, CA. – The Caravan
8/3 – Santa Cruz, CA. – Blue Lagoon
8/4 – Los Angeles, CA. Five Star Bar
8/5 – Las Vegas, NV. – Beauty Bar
8/6 – Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
8/7 – Denver, CO. – Bar Bar
8/8 – Kansas City, MO. – Riot Room
8/9 – St. Louis, MO. – Fubar
8/10 – Chicago, IL. – Reggies
8/11 – Springfield, MO. Outland Ballroom
8/12 – Omaha, NB. – STONED MEADOW OF DOOM FEST
8/14 – Bozeman, MT. – Zebra Lounge
8/15 – Spokane, WA. – The Observatory

https://www.facebook.com/yearofthecobraband/
https://twitter.com/yearofthecobra
https://yearofthecobra.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/prophecyproductions/
https://prophecy-de.bandcamp.com/
https://en.prophecy.de/

Year of the Cobra, “Persephone” official video

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Review & Full Album Stream: Mos Generator, Shadowlands

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mos generator shadowlands

[Click play above to stream Shadowlands by Mos Generator in its entirety. Album is out May 18 on Listenable Records and available to preorder here.]

Shadowlands, as a title and with its gorgeous single-knight-holding-a-lance-aloft-at-a-giant-dragon Adam Burke cover art, make an easy read as a metaphor for depression. Indeed, Mos Generator‘s latest full-length — their seventh or eighth, depending on what you count amid their complex discography of compilations, live records, studio LPs, splits and so on — opens with its title-track and seems immediately to touch on the issue in lines like, “Stranded in dark corners/Trapped by gods of suicide,” and “These shadows grow so tall/Will I ever find my way?,” and yet it’s important to note that whatever Mos Generator and its founding guitarist, vocalist, main songwriter, recording engineer and perceived auteur “Mastered by” Tony Reed might be working through or working out in the lyrics and songwriting itself, Shadowlands remains a pointedly upbeat album.

Its title-track does likewise, with the group’s trademark ’70s-via’90s shuffle brought to bear with an easy fluidity thanks to the rhythm section of bassist Sean Booth and drummer Jono Garrett, who came aboard prior to the band’s last album, Abyssinia (review here), in plenty of time to develop tour-born power trio chemistry with Reed at the helm of the group. Shadowlands, the eight tracks of which make an readily apparent vinyl break with four on each side and each side ending with a seven-minute-and-20-someodd-seconds cut after one three-minute song and two four-and-a half-minute songs — because symmetry! because structure! — is the fourth Mos Generator long-player (their third for Listenable Records) since the band made their return with 2012’s Nomads (review here) and were picked up by Listenable for Electric Mountain Majesty (review here) two years later, and with the significant road-time they’ve put in over the better part of the last half-decade (they’re on tour with Fu Manchu as I write this; dates here), they sound incredibly tight and ready to take on the stylistic turns these songs present.

Don’t get scared, but yes, Mos Generator are branching out. Their foundation, as ever, is in unfuckwithable songcraft and airlock-style performances from ReedBooth and Garrett that are nonetheless believable as a live sound. Cuts like “The Destroyer,” the rolling ’70s nod of the penultimate “Woman Song,” the opener and “Drowning in Your Loving Cup” — let alone the infectious-as-plague insistent hook of side B opener “Gamma Hydra” — are memorable standouts as Mos Generator seem remarkably to provide each time out in abundant fashion. Abyssinia, with Reed on keys in an ending section that pushed them further into classically progressive territory than ever before, is answered in the guitar work of each side’s finale here: “Stolen Ages” and “The Wind and Gentle Dogs,” as well as the tense intricacy of the almost post-punk “The Blasting Concept,” which works into and through a linear build en route to the more fluid groove of “Woman Song.”

“Gamma Hydra,” at 3:24 with its insistent but catchy verse riff, is both the shortest track on Shadowlands and a ready standout from its surroundings, but it’s for the longer-form material that Mos Generator save truly showcasing their classic progressive side on the extended cuts. The first of them, “Stolen Ages,” begins like an Endless Boogie jam before shifting into quiet guitar noodling and reemerging with at about 2:50 with chunkier riffing, leading into the push of the verse and a chorus marked out by airy guitar notes overlaid. The standout lyric comes as “Some dreams are over,” and that last line brings side A to a finish ahead of “Gamma Hydra.”

mos generator

Likewise, closer “The Wild and Gentle Dogs” brings in acoustics at the start and shifts into a more foreboding feel thereafter on a long instrumental build rife with sonic detailing headed to the noise wash that caps the album. These songs both represent relatively new ground for Mos Generator, who over the last several years have shown a burgeoning affinity for more progressive influences. The ending section of Abyssinia certainly played to this, as did their live-recorded 2016 outing, The Firmament (review here), but even in the more straightforward material, these ideas seem more ingrained throughout Shadowlands. Once more, I’ll go back to the maddeningly catchy “Gamma Hydra” at the start of side B.

Not only are its rhythmic turns complicated and its shifting lyrical semi-repetitions a challenge all their own, but even on a conceptual level — if “Shadowlands” at the beginning of the album is depression, then surely “Gamma Hydra” is the accompanying mania. As much as Mos Generator have made their reputation on high-energy live performances and records of excellently composed, pure heavy rock and roll — which, by the way, Shadowlands still is — the band are clearly reaching for new sonic ground in this material. That they would be perhaps even more interested than ever in growth at nearly 20 years into their tenure is impressive enough — though admittedly, the Reed/Booth/Garrett incarnation of the band hasn’t been together nearly that long — but that they’d be able to bring these ideas forward without giving up the sense of groove, or the penchant for hooks, or the sheer command of their sound that they’ve been able to harness makes them all the more a special band.

From the hard-driving opening salvo of “Shadowlands,” “The Destroyer” and “Drowning in Your Loving Cup” down through the frenetic payoff of “The Wild & Gentle Dogs,” Mos Generator prove once again to be a group unto themselves in the quality of their work and the clearheadedness with which they execute their creative will. They’ve made huge strides the last several years to become  heavy-rock-household name, and they’ve been to a large degree successful through constant road-dogging and a steady string of excellent releases, but as a fan of the band and of Reed‘s work in general, it’s hard not to still think of them as being underrated and to imagine that, as they embark on these new stylistic pursuits, their not only keep their loyal listenership with them for the journey, but be able to reach outside and turn new heads as well. At least that seems to be the idea, and Shadowlands makes it sound easily possible.

Mos Generator on Thee Facebooks

HeavyHead webstore

Mos Generator at Listenable Records

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: The Atlas Moth, Across Tundras, The Wizards of Delight, Against the Grain, Our Solar System, Dommengang, Boss Keloid, Holy Smoke, Sabel, Blackwater Prophet

Posted in Reviews on April 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

This is a crucial moment in any Quarterly Review. Today we hit the halfway point one way or the other. I still haven’t decided if this will be a 50- or 60-album edition; kind of playing it by ear, but either way, today’s a landmark in my mind in terms of how far to go vs. how far we’ve come. Uphill vs. downhill to some extent, but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m either half-assing it from here on out or that I don’t enjoy the challenge of reviewing 10 records in a day, one after the next, for (at least) five days in a row. I’ve always been a glutton for a bit of self-flagellation. Ha.

Alright, let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Atlas Moth, Coma Noir

the atlas moth coma noir

If one still wants to consider Chicago’s The Atlas Moth post-metal after hearing Coma Noir, at least do them the courtesy of emphasizing the “metal” part of that equation. For their debut on Prosthetic Records and fourth full-length overall, the five-piece worked with producer Sanford Parker to solidify a progressive metal sound that, whether in the harsh and weighted impact of the opening title-track or the later interplay between guitarists Stavros Giannopoulos and David Kush on screams and cleaner vocals in “Furious Gold,” seems to take cues from groups like a less manic Strapping Young Lad and a less watered-down Mastodon more than Isis or Neurosis. With prominent synth from Andrew Ragin (also guitar), and the solid roll from the rhythm section of bassist Alex Klein and drummer Mike Miczek, the band brings revitalized edge to “The Streets of Bombay,” and even on the slower, more atmospheric closer “Chloroform,” they’ve never sounded more lethal. It suits them.

The Atlas Moth on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Across Tundras, Tumbleweeds III

across tundras tumbleweeds iii

A collection of odds and ends from Across Tundras, the 10-track/52-minute Tumbleweeds III may or may not sate anyone hoping for a follow-up to 2013’s Electric Relics (review here), but it provides some curio fodder along the way to be sure, from raw opener “Final Breath over Venom Falls” to the acoustic-percussion jam “Bullet in the Butt” to the fuller roll of “Cold Ride” and later demos for “Spinning Through the Cosmic Dust,” “Hijo del Desierto,” “Stone Crazy Horse” and “The Stacked Plain,” which later became “Seasick Serenade” on Electric Relics, it’s at very least something for fans to dig into and a fascinating listen, as Across Tundras’ rambling sound is almost eerily suited to a home-recording vibe, as the “Stone Crazy Horse” demo, featuring vocalist Shannon Allie-Murphy along with frontman Tanner Olson, sounds all the more folksome as a result of its lack of production polish. Closing with Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” then, could hardly be more appropriate. Still waiting for a proper long-player to surface, but happy at this point to take what comes.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

The Wizards of Delight, The Wizards of Delight

the wizards of delight the wizards of delight

Like a chicanery-laced dusty vinyl with a naked lady on the cover, The Wizards of Delight emerge from the London underground to solidly declare “We’ve got the rock ‘n’ rollz.” And yes, they spell it with a ‘z.’ The presence of frontman Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen will be familiar to anyone who ever even briefly encountered Groan – dude makes an impression, to be sure – and the four tracks he and the surrounding five-piece of guitarists/backing vocalists Dan Green’s Myth and Lenny Ray, bassist/backing vocalist Eponymous, organist/backing vocalist Henry and drummer Reece bring is both funky and classically heavy, “Gypsy” referencing Dio Sabbath in the first line while “Mountain Woman” brings a heavy ‘70s shuffle to answer the way-un-P.C. “Shogun Messiah,” which seems to be working under the thesis that because it sounds like it’s from 40 years ago, they can get away with it. I’ll give them that the track is, to an unfortunate degree, catchy. As to the rest, give me the groove of “We Got the Rock ‘n’ Rollz” any day. It’s been a while since anyone so brazenly interpreted Mk. II Deep Purple and actually pulled it off.

The Wizards of Delight on Thee Facebooks

APF Records website

 

Against the Grain, Cheated Death

against the grain cheated death

Hard-touring Detroit heavy rockers Against the Grain are known for speed, and rightly so. When they burst into high gear, as on “Sacrifice,” “No Sleep,” “Last Chance,” “Rolling Stone,” “Enough’s Not Enough,” and “Jaded and Faded” from their latest offering and Ripple Music debut, Cheated Death. The follow-up to 2015’s Road Warriors (review here) sees them no less infectious in their live energy, but it’s hard to ignore the more versatile approach that seems to be growing in their sound, from the classic rocking “Smoke” to the near-centerpiece “Devils and Angels” which ballads-out its boozy regrets before entering into an effective mid-paced build that rounds out in choice dual-soloing. Likewise, though they open at a good clip with the title-track, closer “Into the Light” finds a middle ground between thrust and groove. The truth is Against the Grain have never been just about speed, but they’ve never so directly benefited from a dynamic approach as they do on Cheated Death either.

Against the Grain on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Our Solar System, Origins

our solar system origins

Immediate kudos to Stockholm-based psychedelic progressive explorers Our Solar System – aka Vårt Solsystem – for opening their third full-length for Beyond Beyond is Beyond, the five-track/41-minute Origins, with the side-consuming 21-minute “Vulkanen.” One could hardly ask for more effective immersion in the band’s world of patiently unfurled, languid psychedelia, and with the accompaniment of “Babalon Rising,” the jazz-prog tracklist centerpiece “En Bit Av Det Tredje Klotet,” the birdsong-laced “Naturligt Samspel” and the semi-freaked-out melodic wash of “Monte Verita” on side B, a full, rich, and mind-expanding cosmos is engaged, free of restriction even as it remains thoroughly lysergic, and adherent to no structural will so much as the will to adventure into the unknown, to find out where one progression leads. As regards the long- and short-form material on Origins, it leads far, far out, and if you don’t come out the other side wanting to own everything the band has ever released, you’re decidedly in the wrong.

Our Solar System on Thee Facebooks

Beyond Beyond is Beyond website

 

Dommengang, Love Jail

dommengang love jail

Once calling Brooklyn Home, Los Angeles trio Dommengang waste no time in getting down to the business of boogie on their second album for Thrill Jockey, Love Jail. Produced by Tim Green (The Fucking Champs), the 10-track/50-minute long-player has all the room for organ/guitar mashups, righteous West Coast vibes and easy-flowing classic heavy rock one could hope for, and in the opening salvo of “Pastel City,” “Lovely Place” and “Lone Pine,” the three-piece of guitarist Dan “Sig” Wilson, bassist Brian Markham, and drummer Adam Bulgasem reaffirm mellow bluesiness as well on the title-track and dig into ‘90s-style alt bliss on the penultimate “Color out of Space.” There’s a welcoming air throughout that holds steady regardless of tempo, and in heavier moments like the second half of “I’m out Mine,” the band resonates with fuzz and noisy elements that bring just enough danger to the proceedings to keep the listener riveted. Classy, but not too classy, in other words.

Dommengang on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records website

 

Boss Keloid, Melted on the Inch

boss keloid melted on the inch

It would seem that Wigan, UK, outfit Boss Keloid — newly signed to Holy Roar Records for the release of their third LP, Melted on the Inch – internalized a few crucial lessons from their sophomore outing, 2016’s Herb Your Enthusiasm (review here). At six tracks and 40 minutes, Melted on the Inch is about 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor. Its title isn’t a weed pun. Its cover art conveys a work of dimensionality, and most importantly, the album itself turns to be precisely that. Taking a significant step toward a more progressive sound, Boss Keloid maintain the heft of their prior outing but base it around material that, frankly, is more complex and dynamic. I won’t say that “Tarku Shavel” and “Lokannok” are without their elements of self-indulgence, but neither should they be for the five-piece to do justice to the multifaceted nature of their purpose. They still roar when they want to, but Boss Keloid strike with breadth on Melted on the Inch as well as sheer impact.

Boss Keloid on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records website

 

Holy Smoke, Pipe Dream

holy smoke pipe dream

After forming in 2015, Philadelphia’s exclamatory Holy Smoke! issued their first three-track release, It’s a Demo! (review here) the next year and showed marked stylistic promise in cuts like “Rinse and Repeat” and “Blue Dreams.” Both of those tracks, as it happens, stand at the opening of the band’s latest EP, the five-song Pipe Dream, and reaffirm the potential in the group. The opener (also the longest track once again; immediate points) is a tale of workaday redundancy, the very sort of monotony that the rest of the offering seems to leave behind in favor of post-grunge heavy rock, marked by the wah-bass on finale “Asch Backwards” and the brooding sensibility of the prior “Golden Retriever,” which surges in its midsection like a lost Alice in Chains demo only to end quiet once again, a departure from the linearity of centerpiece “Missing the Mark” just before. Less psychedelic than their initial impression conveyed, they seem to have undertaken the work of crafting their own sonic niche in Philly’s increasingly crowded scene, and there’s nothing on Pipe Dream to make one think it’s not a realistic possibility they’ll get there.

Holy Smoke on Thee Facebooks

Holy Smoke on Bandcamp

 

Sabel, Re-Generation

sabel re-generation

Sabel know what they want to be and then are that thing. Their third album, Re-Generation, arrives via Oak Island Records as six tracks of to-the-converted stonerism, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “In the Walls of Eryx,” the Swedish trio do little more than ask their listeners to smell the smoke emanating from their speaker cabinets (oddly sweet), and hone walls of fuzz that each seem to be bigger than the last. There are some elements of earliest Electric Wizard at play in “Atlantean” or the sneering “Voodoo Woman,” but belters like “Interstellar Minddweller” and “Green Priestess” stave off their sounding overly derivative, and though at the end of Re-Generation’s 42-minute run, one might feel as though they need a shower, the record itself proves well worth the dive into the muck. The band would seem to have carved their own descriptor with the title of their self-released 2015 LP, Hard Doom, and that’s as good as anything I could come up with, so let’s roll with it. They seem to.

Sabel on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Blackwater Prophet, As I Watch it Freeze

blackwater prophet as i watch it freeze

Cheers to Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment for putting me onto Spokane, Washington’s Blackwater Prophet, who with the seven-track As I Watch it Freeze collect various tracks recorded between 2015 and 2017. Thus something of a compilation, the 40-minute outing wants nothing for overarching flow, “In My Passing Time” leading off with a mellow psych-blues spirit that only grows more classic-feeling through “House of Stone” and the gorgeously pastoral “The Swamp.” The band have two proper full-lengths out, and if they wanted to count As I Watch it Freeze as their third, I don’t think they’d find much argument, as centerpiece “Gold in the Palm” opens like a gateway leading to the increasingly resonant “Careworn Crow,” the fuzzy swing of “Eating the Sun” and finally, the title-track itself, which answers the acoustics of “The Swamp” earlier while adding flourish of volume-swelling and swirling electric guitar and late choral vocals that only make the proceedings seem all the more complete in their engagement.

Blackwater Prophet on Thee Facebooks

Blackwater Prophet on Bandcamp

 

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Year of the Cobra Touring Europe with Toke; Playing Freak Valley and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

So hey, Seattle duo Year of the Cobra had a limited single go up for presale this past week over at H42 Records. Think maybe you’d like to purchase such a thing? Gone. Gone, gone, goneski. They made 220 of them and there they go.

Maybe the band will have some held back for the merch table on their European tour with Toke, which includes a previously-announced stop at Freak Valley as well as other stops in Germany, Norway, the UK, Denmark, and so on. It’s not Year of the Cobra‘s first European tour, and it’s not their first limited 7″ through H42 Records, but hell, if you’ve got a thing that works, run with it.

And if you’ve got a jones for some Year of the Cobra vinyl, their Burn Your Dead EP (review here) is available on repress from Magnetic Eye. You can also stream it at the bottom of this post.

Info from the PR wire:

year of the cobra toke tour poster

You’ve probably heard that Year of the Cobra will be back in Europe in May 2018 (with co headliner Toke) and will also be part of the honorable FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL.

Of course, Jon and Amy have something special for you in their luggage: a cool little vinyl 7″ with 45rpm ‘The Descent’ on side A and an exclusive screen print on side B!

The single will be available on tour and from H42 Records. There will be only 220 copies in total so do not oversleep! We have decided to offer you a small part of the singles in advance, so that even those have a chance to get one who have no opportunity to attend a concert on tour.

You have the agony of choice between 4 different editions:
100x clear vinyl with orange screen-print
50x white vinyl with black screen-print
50x black vinyl with orange screen-print
20x special edt. with whitelabel and ‘suprise colored screen-print and alternative cover-art

YEAR OF THE COBRA European tour dates w/ Toke:
5/10/18: Copenhagen, DK @ Stengade
5/11/18: Oslo, NO @ Krosset
5/12/18: Malmo, SE @ Plan B
5/13/18: Kiel, DE @ Kieler Schaubude
5/15/18: Berlin, DE @ Zukunft
5/16/18: Slavonice, CH @ barak
5/17/18: Warsaw PL @ Hydrozagadka
5/18/18: Gdansk PL @ Protokultura
5/19/18: Wroclaw PL @ Ciemna Strona Miasta
5/20/18: Wien, AT @ Venster99
5/21/18: Salzburg, AT @ Rockhouse
5/22/18: Dresden DE @ Ostpol
5/23/18: Bregenz AT @ Between
5/24/18: Freiburg DE @ White Rabbit
5/25/18: Olten CH @ Le coq D’Or
5/26/18: Paris, FR @ L’international
5/27/18: Bristol, UK @ The Old England
5/28/18: London UK @ The Black Heart
5/29/18: Lille France @ TBA
5/30/18: Strasbourg, FR @ Molodoï
5/31/18: Wurzburg, DK @ Immerhin
6/1/18: Utrecht NL @ Db’s
6/2/18: Netphen, DE @ Freak Valley Festival

http://yearofthecobra.com
https://www.facebook.com/yearofthecobraband/
https://yearofthecobra.bandcamp.com/
https://www.merhq.net/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords/
http://merhqradio.net/
stbrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://stbrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/STB-Records/471228012921184

Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead (2017)

Year of the Cobra, …In the Shadows Below (2016)

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Mos Generator Set May 18 Release for Shadowlands; Album Details Announced; Touring in April & May

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

So anyway, yes, I’ve already put Adam Burke‘s cover for the new Mos Generator record, Shadowlands, on my list of 2018’s best artwork. It’s got a spot. I pretty much reserve a place for Burke on that list anyway, since he seems to so constantly feature there. Sure enough, his piece for Shadowlands looks like a D&D poster I’d want to hang on my bedroom wall — I was going to say “as a kid,” but screw it, I’d hang that shit now. Look at it. It’s awesome.

And though this is usually the part where I’d pretend I haven’t yet heard Shadowlands itself, that’s awesome too. Mos Generator being Mos Generator, delivering uncompromised heavy rock with a classic edge, progressive flourish, and songwriting to stand up to any you might put next to it. That’s who they are. That’s what they do.

Well, that and touring anyway. They head out with Fu Manchu in May and have some headlining shows before. The PR wire tells all:

mos generator shadowlands

MOS GENERATOR: Washington Heavy Rock Trio To Release Shadowlands Full-Length Via Listenable Records This May; Live Dates With Fu Manchu Confirmed

Long-running Washington-based heavy rock trio MOS GENERATOR will release a new full-length this May via Listenable Records. Titled Shadowlands, the eight-track studio offering was recorded in three sessions — June 2017, November 2017, and January 2018 — at the HeavyHead Recording Company in Port Orchard, Washington and comes swathed in the cover art of Adam Burke [Pilgrim, Satan’s Satyrs, Hooded Menace, Artificial Brain et al].

“Right from the opening song, Shadowlands is a record that, to me, feels more honest than our previous releases,” relays founding guitarist/vocalist/principal songwriter Tony Reed. “On this record, I introduce many other styles that I enjoy but they are intertwined so subtly that it doesn’t interrupt the classic MOS GENERATOR sound. That is a balance I’ve been looking for over the last few albums and I think the presence of [drummer] Jon Garrett and [bassist] Sean Booth have a lot to do with achieving that balance. It’s a heavy rock record that breaths and if I had to describe it further I would say it mixes ’70s style heavy rock, progressive rock, and also has some weird ’80s and ’90s underground rock nuances.”

Shadowlands will see release via Listenable Records in Europe on May 11th followed by a US street date of May 18th with preorder info to be announced in the coming weeks.

Shadowlands Track Listing:
1. Shadowlands
2. The Destroyer
3. Drowning In Your Loving Cup
4. Stolen Ages
5. Gamma Hydra
6. The Blasting Concept
7. Woman Song
8. The Wild & Gentle Dogs

In advance of the release of Shadowlands, MOS GENERATOR will take on a month-long, cross country US tour. Set to commence on April 20th, the Road Rats Tour 2018 will run through May 26th and includes sixteen dates supporting Fu Manchu! See all confirmed shows below.

MOS GENERATOR:
4/20/2018 Hogfish – Couer d’Alene, ID
4/21/2018 Rocky Mountain Riff Fest – Kalispell, MT
4/25/2018 The Valley – Tacoma, WA
4/26/2018 The Haul – Grants Pass, OR
4/27/2018 Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA
4/28/2018 Dive Bar – Las Vegas, NV
4/29/2018 Alex’s Bar – Long Beach, CA
4/30/2018 The Kraken – Cardiff, CA
w/ Fu Manchu:
5/01/2018 Rebel Lounge – Phoenix, AZ
5/03/2018 Curtain Club – Dallas, TX
5/04/2018 Barracuda – Austin, TX
5/05/2018 White Oak Music Hall – Houston, TX
5/07/2018 Vinyl – Atlanta, GA
5/08/2018 Kings – Raleigh, NC
5/09/2018 Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington, DC
5/10/2018 Brillobox – Pittsburgh, PA *
5/11/2018 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA
5/12/2018 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
5/13/2018 Brighton Music Hall – Allston, MA
5/14/2018 Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY *
5/15/2018 Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH
5/16/2018 Ace Of Cups – Columbus, OH
5/17/2018 El Club – Detroit, MI
5/18/2018 The Baby G – Toronto, ON *
5/19/2018 Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL
5/20/2018 Total Drag Records – Sioux Falls, SD *
5/22/2018 Streets of London Pub – Denver, CO
5/23/2018 Streets of London Pub – Denver, CO
5/25/2018 Substation – Seattle, WA*
5/26/2018 The Manette – Bremerton, WA *
** MOS GENERATOR only

https://mosgenerator.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MosGenerator
http://heavyheadsuperstore.storenvy.com/
http://www.shop-listenable.net/fr/47_mos-generator

Mos Generator, Live in Glasgow, Scotland, Oct. 3, 2017

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Dylan Carlson to Release Conquistador April 27; New Song Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dylan carlson

I’m sure it’ll be a sleeper hit, but there’s an entire swath of the population to whom Dylan Carlson‘s Conquistador is going to prove utterly essential, and those lucky devils have probably already stopped reading and made their way to the bottom of this post to check out the tour dates with Sleep and the new track “Scorpions in Their Mouths,” which is streaming now in all its guitar-droney goodness.

Interesting to note that Carlson, who of course is best known as the founding guitarist of pioneering atmospheric instrumentalists Earth, is using his own name for Conquistador, rather than the solo moniker drcarlsonalbion that has been his go-to over the course of the last few years. That, coupled with the fact that Carlson‘s wife, Holly Carlson is the cover model for the record — she may have taken that picture as well, I don’t know; the one of Carlson at the top of this post is by her — leads one to think this is a pretty personal outing for the six-string-and-effects wizard, but somehow I doubt anything about Conquistador will be quite so up front, including its motivations.

April 27 is the release date as per the PR wire:

dylan carlson conquistador

LEGENDARY GUITARIST DYLAN CARLSON ANNOUNCES A NEW SOLO ALBUM & PREMIERES THE FIRST SINGLE

CONQUISTADOR IS DUE OUT ON THE 27TH OF APRIL VIA SARGENT HOUSE

Known first and foremost as the lynchpin of instrumental band Earth, Dylan Carlson has become one of alternative music’s most ambitious pathfinders. It seems beyond appropriate, then, that Carlson’s new solo endeavor is titled Conquistador. The five-track record channels the indulgent drone of Earth while traversing uncharted sonic terrain. Listen to the album’s first single, “Scorpions In Their Mouths”.

Carlson’s previous solo work under the moniker drcarlsonalbion has consistently veered away from Earth’s American motifs in favour of English folklore. For his first proper full-length as Dylan Carlson, the guitarist returns West. Whereas Earth has sought to score Cormac McCarthy’s examination of white settlers’ horrific campaign against Native Americans in Blood Meridian, Conquistador bypasses the intermediary narrative of a novelist. Long heralded as a master of minimalism, Carlson’s album demonstrates his ability to craft compelling symphonic compositions while exercising extreme musical frugality.

“I guess what ties this all together—all my musical projects and my life in general—is the idea of the quest, that search for new horizons and something unnamable and possibly unreachable,” Carlson says of the record.

Conquistador was recorded at God City Studios with Kurt Ballou during a weeklong break in Carlson’s 2016 solo tour of the East Coast of the US. After months of gestating the material that would eventually become Conquistador, Carlson viewed the session as an opportunity for both catharsis and collaboration, thanks to contributions from the esteemed Emma Ruth Rundle (baritone and slide guitar) and his wife Holly Carlson (percussion, photography, cover model).

Conquistador is due out via Sargent House on April 27th.

Conquistador Track Listing:
1. Conquistador
2. When The Horses Were Shorn Of Their Hooves
3. And then the Crows Descended
4. Scorpions in their Mouths
5. Reaching the Gulf

Dylan Carlson, On Tour:
Sunday, July 22 — Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club *
Wednesday, July 25 — Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory *
Friday, July 27 — Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel *
Saturday, July 28 — Boston, MA @ Royale *
Wednesday, August 1 — Chicago, IL @ Riviera *
* w/ SLEEP

https://twitter.com/drcarlsonalbion
https://facebook.com/drcarlsonalbion
https://instagram.com/drcarlsonalbion
https://drcarlson.bandcamp.com
https://thronesanddominions.com/dylan-carlson
http://smarturl.it/DCarlsonStore

Dylan Carlson, “Scorpions in Their Mouths”

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Zeke to Release Hellbender March 30; Three New Songs Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

zeke

Just about nobody tears it up like Zeke tears it up. They should’ve started their own line of band-branded document shredders years ago with the slogan ‘Zeke Destroys Your Shit,’ but I guess they decided to just tour like crazy and put out records instead. Anyway, point is that at any given moment the Seattle outfit stand utterly ready to kick your ass, and listening to the tracks they have posted from their forthcoming LP Hellbender, which will be out March 30 on Relapse as their first album in nearly 15 years, that doesn’t seem to have changed much.

One other thing to like about this, aside from the cover art and the massive list of tour dates and the audio itself, as if that wasn’t enough? Most bands post one track with a record announcement to give listeners a sense of what they’re getting. Zeke post three. And the YouTube clip is still only three minutes long. Fucking awesome. Zeke rule. And though I haven’t even heard it yet, you can pretty much quote me on that as a review of Hellbender.

From the PR wire:

zeke hellbender

ZEKE To Release New Album Hellbender, Their First Full-Length In Over Fourteen Years, Through Relapse; Three Songs Now Streaming

Seattle punk legends ZEKE return with their first new album in over fourteen years, titled Hellbender, set for release through Relapse Records.

Short, fast, loud, and to the fuckin’ point, Hellbender contains fifteen tracks laced with ZEKE’s signature mix of hyperspeed thrash-punk and Motörhead-possessed, hard as nails, rock ‘n’ roll. Complete with a raucous, in-your-face production by Jack Endino (Nirvana, High On Fire, The Accüsed), and completed with artwork by Hollis Tucker and Lee Goode, Hellbender is the culmination of a band twenty-five years into their career, sounding more aggressive, immediate, and turbo-charged than ever before! Ride to live…

ZEKE’s new album Hellbender is due out March 30th, 2018 on CD, LP, and digital via Relapse Records. Physical packages are available via Relapse.com HERE and Digital Downloads on Bandcamp HERE.

Additionally, ZEKE will embark on a headlining Spring European tour in support of Hellbender’s release next month. The tour commences on March 30th at Paaspop Festival in Schijndel, Netherlands and ends May 5th in Kassel, Germany. A short stint of regional dates in the Pacific Northwest will take place in the coming months as well. A full list of current confirmed tour dates is available below.

Hellbender Track Listing:
1. All The Way
2. Two Lane Blacktop
3. On The Road
4. Working Man
5. Hellbender
6. County Jail
7. Burn
8. Goin’ Down
9. White Wolf
10. AR-15
11. Cougar Rock
12. Devil’s Night
13. Ride On
14. Redline
15. Big Rig

ZEKE Tour Dates:
2/10/2018 Darrell’s – Seattle, WA
2/17/2018 Dante’s – Portland, OR
3/10/2018 Tony V – Everett, WA
3/17/2018 The Manette Saloon – Bremerton, WA
3/24/2018 El Corazon – Seattle, WA
3/30/2018 Paaspop Festival – Schijndel, NL
3/31/2018 Tower – Bremen, DE
4/01/2018 Loppen – Copenhagen, DK
4/02/2018 Frimis Salonger – Orebro, SE
4/03/2018 Bar Brooklyn – Stockholm, SE
4/04/2018 Krosset – Oslo, NO
4/06/2018 Pustervik – Goteborg, SE
4/07/2018 1000Fryd – Aalborg, DK
4/08/2018 Schaubude – Kiel, DE
4/09/2018 Hafenklang – Hamburg, DE
4/11/2018 Rote Sonne – Munchen, DE
4/12/2018 Freakout Club – Bologna, IT
4/13/2018 Evol – Roma, IT
4/14/2018 The Cage – Livorno, IT
4/15/2018 Circolo Magnolia – Segrate, IT
4/16/2018 Secret Place – Montpellier, FR
4/18/2018 Rocksound – Barcelona, ES
4/19/2018 TBA – Valencia, ES
4/20/2018 Gruta 77 – Madrid, ES
4/21/2018 Jimmy Jazz – Vitoria, ES
4/22/2018 Rock’n’Eat – Lyon, FR
4/24/2018 Bi Nuu – Berlin, DE
4/25/2018 Don’t Panic – Essen, DE
4/26/2018 Helios 37 – Koln, DE
4/27/2018 Pitfest – Erica, NL
4/28/2018 Stockrock – Hagen a.T.W., DE
4/29/2018 De Helling – Utrecht, NL
4/30/2018 Nostra – Opwijk, BE
5/01/2018 The Thekla – Bristol, UK
5/02/2018 Rebellion Club – Manchester, UK
5/03/2018 The Rescue Rooms – Nottingham, UK
5/04/2018 Desertfest – London, UK
5/05/2018 K-19 – Kassel, DE

ZEKE:
“Blind” Marky Felchtone – lead guitar/vocals
Kurt Kilfelt – pure hate/disorder
Dayne Porras – drums
Kyle Whitefoot – guitar

https://www.facebook.com/ZekeBand
https://www.instagram.com/ZekeBand
https://www.twitter.com/ZekeBand
http://zekeband.bandcamp.com
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords
http://www.twitter.com/RelapseRecords
https://www.instagram.com/relapserecords

Zeke, “Working Man/Hellbender/County Jail”

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