What to Look Forward to in 2011, Pt. 2: Rampant Speculation

Posted in Features on January 18th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Please don’t think I’m breaking any news here one way or the other about any of these releases. This post is basically just me talking about albums I’d like to see this year. Some have been formally announced, some just alluded to, but if these and the records listed yesterday were all that 2011 had in store, we’d probably still come out of it on the winning side.

Once again, the headline says “Rampant Speculation” and that’s what this is. Maybe in reading it, you’ll agree with something, maybe you’ll disagree. Either way, any comments are appreciated as always.

Let’s have some fun:

YOB: Sad as it is that Oregon doom forerunners YOB had to cancel their appearance at Roadburn and European tour, one can only hope their follow-up to 2009’s blistering The Great Cessation comes out that much sooner as a result. It will be interested to hear where the band goes stylistically. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt had plenty to be pissed about going into the YOB reunion, following all that Middian/Midian legal nonsense, but now that that’s through with, will he bring the same kind of vitriol to bare in the songwriting? Hopefully it’s not too long before we find out.

Colour Haze: They’re one of the classiest bands on the planet, and their last album, All, was hands-down my favorite record of 2008. They’ve released the Burg Herzberg two-disc live recording since then, but it’s time for new album, and according to the last Elektrohasch Schallplatten, it’s not far off. All had a more live, more organic feel than anything Colour Haze ever did before — the snare drum’s reacting to the bass and guitar rumble like a nod to everyone listening that it was done with everyone in the same room — and I’m looking forward to hearing how they try to top it.

Clutch: 2010 saw numerous reissues and the usual insane amount of touring, but in 2011, it’s time to see where the next stage in Clutch‘s ongoing development is leading. Maybe they’ll continue the blues-laden path they’ve taken on their last couple records, or maybe they’ll decide it’s time to confuse the hell out of everyone and do something completely different. Aside from being an astounding live act, Clutch are a fantastic group of songwriters, and it’ll be exciting to get to know a new batch of tunes both live and on disc.

Elder: Their self-titled was some seriously riffy business, and I haven’t heard the follow-up yet, but all accounts from those who have say it’s a more ethereal, more open and stonery sound these young Massachusetts rockers have taken on, and that’s just fine by me. MeteorCity is supposed to have the release out later this year, and I have the feeling that when ti finally hits, it’s going to catch a lot of people off guard, in a good way. Hard not to expect big things for a band like Elder, who have so much potential.

Dixie Witch: When it’ll be out, I have no idea, but Dixie Witch‘s fourth full-length will be the band’s first without guitarist Clayton Mills. His tone and natural bluesy shred was a huge part of what made Dixie Witch‘s prior offerings so killer, and by the time the album gets out, it’s likely to have been five full years since they released the excellent Smoke and Mirrors. This one’s long overdue.

Argus: True, I said I’d only list five bands, and these Pennsylvanian metallers make it six, but I’m genuinely curious to hear what they come up with for their Cruz Del Sur label debut. I dug heavily on the trad doom of their Shadow Kingdom Records self-titled debut, and vocalist Butch Ballch (formerly of Penance) never fails to deliver, so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out.

There’s other stuff too: Olde Growth, Hour of 13, Wo Fat, Graveyard and a slew of albums that may or may not happen in time for December to roll around. Again, this is just the stuff I want to hear, so if you’ve got anything on your mind or something I should look out for, leave a comment. There’s nothing better than being exposed to new music.

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What to Look Forward to in 2011, Pt. 1: The Sure Bets

Posted in Features on January 17th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

I’d have done a 2011 list earlier, but honestly, after the massiveness that was the top 20 countdown, I needed a break from all the list-type stuff. Next thing I knew, January was more than halfway over and no predictions had yet been made about what some of the best things to come would be. Just shameful.

This is just going to be a two-parter, and I’m keeping it to five albums on each list for a total of 10 records to look forward to in 2011. If that’s not enough for you, well, stay tuned, because I’m sure there’s going to be plenty more than 10 reviews posted this year. Hell, I think there already have been, so there you go.

The reason these are “the sure bets” is because I’ve already heard them and know they rule. Let’s get to it:

Lo-Pan, Salvador: The Ohio four-piece’s Small Stone label debut full-length has “classic” written all over it. I heard some rough mixes back in December and I’ve heard some less-rough mixes now, and I honestly haven’t felt this way about a straightforward stoner rock record since I heard the first Sasquatch album in 2004. The songwriting is brilliant, the performances masterful and the production stellar. You’re gonna shit when you hear “Chichen Itza” and “Deciduous.”

Crowbar, Sever the Wicked Hand: It’s kind of funny, but Crowbar influenced a whole younger generation of bands and on Sever the Wicked Hand, it sounds like that younger generation has re-influenced Crowbar, or at least reminded them of what they do best. Some of the material on Sever the Wicked Hand is a little fast, but there are some real quality tracks, and at this point it’s been so long I’m just glad they have a new record out.

Earth, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I: Part one in a series of two new works by Earth , Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (review here) brings cello accompaniment to Dylan Carlson‘s trademark drone guitar, filling out the sound with a subtle and melodic lushness it’s never before had. Earth are never going to be for everyone, but their latest should delight longtime fans and catch a couple newcomers as well.

Weedeater, Jason… the Dragon: Sludge meets swampy Southern blues on the latest record from the North Carolinian outfit which, like Earth, will be released via Southern Lord in March. Their sound is as nasty as ever, but there’s evidence of stylistic branching out in songs like “Homecoming” and “Palms of Opium,” and it’s exciting to hear the band trying new things, especially when they work. Full review is here.

Six Organs of Admittance, Asleep on the Floodplain: I’ve been a nerd for this Ben Chasny solo project for a number of years now, and on his new record, which is due out on Drag City on Feb. 22, the Comets on Fire guitarist does away with some of the psychedelic and/or droning aspects of the last couple albums in favor of a return to acoustic solo-songwriter material. Translation: He’s right in his element. More to come.

Tomorrow we’ll do Pt. 2, which will be full of pure speculation, and thus a lot of fun.

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