Freak Valley 2018: Russian Circles, Year of the Cobra, Black Bombaim, Ruff Majik & My Baby Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

freak-valley-2018-banner

Not taking anything away from anyone in this latest announcement from Freak Valley 2018, but for me, the find of the bunch is South African heavy-grooving three-piece Ruff Majik, who, what they lack in spelling they more than compensate for with riff-led immersive roll as well as a prolific rate of releases.

Again, that’s not to detract at all from the radness of the fact that Year of the Cobra are making the trip, or that Russian Circles will no doubt feature somewhere near the top of the bill, but I wasn’t familiar with Ruff Majik prior to this announcement and was happy to have the chance to check them out.

If you’d like to do the same, their latest EP is streaming at the bottom of this post. Go ahead and give it a shot. Maybe name your price on one of those downloads they have set up on such terms.

Here’s the full announcement from the fest, which, as it happens, I wrote:

freak-valley-2018-russian-circles

Happy New Year, Freaks!

We’re creeping ever closer to the start of FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL 2018, and you know what that means: More announcements, more reasons to come, and less time to plan your trip. If you missed out on tickets before they sold out, sorry, but you can’t say you weren’t warned. For everyone else, we’ve got FIVE awesome new confirmations to reveal for the lineup!

Please welcome Russian Circles, Black Bombaim, Year of the Cobra, Ruff Majik and MY BABY to the bill for Freak Valley 2018!

RUSSIAN CIRCLES

No way these guys need any introduction. For over a decade, Chicago instrumental trio Russian Circles have made themselves forerunners of heavy and psychedelic post-rock, and with their records Enter, Station, Geneva, Empros, Memorial and Guidance, they’ve become one of the most essential acts of their generation. Expect immersion like nothing else when they take the stage for all the Freaks! They might even leave the lights on! On second thought, nah, probably not.

BLACK BOMBAIM

If you’ve never experienced Portuguese jammers Black Bombaim live, you don’t even know what you’ve been missing. The raw chemistry, the dynamic turns – everything they do recalls the best of improvisational psychedelic rock. Their flow is molten and unlike anyone else’s in the style, and they come to Freak Valley as ready to explore new ground as ever in the far-out cosmic reaches.

YEAR OF THE COBRA

While the bass/drum two-piece recalled riffy greats like Sleep and Acid King on their debut album, In the Shadows Below, it was the 2017 EP, Burn Your Dead, that really showed off the diversity of sound Year of the Cobra could bring to bear. The Seattle duo hit Europe for the first time supporting the album and as they come back ahead of a new full-length in 2018, we’re thrilled to welcome them for their first visit to Freak Valley!

RUFF MAJIK

Traveling all the way from Pretoria, South Africa, the heavy-grooving trio Ruff Majik have been belting out releases at a prolific clip since their 2015 debut, The Bear. By the time they make it to Siegen this May, they’ll be riding high on the blues-psych vibes of their latest work, A Stag in the Leaves, and we can’t wait to introduce them to the Freaks and give everyone a taste of their laid back riffs and classic style.

MY BABY

Based in Amsterdam (because where else?), My Baby come to Freak Valley 2018 offering a spirit and a musical energy like nothing else on the bill. Their 2017 album, Prehistoric Rhythm, ran contrary to its name with a blend of soul, blues, funk, dance and classic rock that could only be from the future. Still, it spoke to something primitive in all of us – a basic need to move, to get up, to shake ass, and we know they’ll have the Freaks doing exactly that.

Freak Valley Festival 2018 // No Fillers – Just Killers

Line-up 2018:
OM, Russian Circles, My Sleeping Karma, My Baby, Yuri Gagarin, Dÿse, Black Bombaim, Year of the Cobra, Ruff Majik, Rage of Samedi, Nap
More tba soon

Have a freaky time – your Rock Freaks

www.freakvalley.de
https://www.facebook.com/freakvalley
https://www.facebook.com/events/738782742996668/
https://twitter.com/FreakValley

Ruff Majik, A Dragon and His Hoard (2017)

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

Posted in Features on December 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2017 to that, please do.

This is the hardest list to put together, no question. Don’t get me wrong, I put way too much thought into all of them, but this one is damn near impossible to keep up with. Every digital single, every demo, every EP, every 7″, 10″ one-sided 12″, whatever it is. There’s just too much. I’m not going to claim to have heard everything. Hell, that’s what the comments are for. Let me know what I missed. Invariably, something.

So while the headers might look similar, assuming I can ever remember which fonts I use from one to the next, this list has a much different personality than, say, the one that went up earlier this week with the top 20 debuts of 2017. Not that I heard everyone’s first record either, but we’re talking relative ratios here. The bottom line is please just understand I’ve done my best to hear as much as possible. I’m only one person, and there are only so many hours in the day. Eventually your brain turns into riffy mush.

With that caveat out of the way, I’m happy to present the following roundup of some of what I thought were 2017’s best short releases. That’s EPs, singles, demos, splits — pretty much anything that wasn’t a full-length album, and maybe one or two things that were right on the border of being one. As between genres, the lines are blurry these days. That’s part of what makes it fun.

Okay, enough dawdling. Here we go:

lo-pan-in-tensions

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

1. Lo-Pan, In Tensions
2. Godhunter, Codex Narco
3. Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead
4. Shroud Eater, Three Curses
5. Stubb, Burning Moon
6. Canyon, Canyon
7. Solace, Bird of Ill Omen
8. Kings Destroy, None More
9. Tarpit Boogie, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam
10. Supersonic Blues, Supersonic Blues Theme
11. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
12. Rope Trick, Red Tape
13. Eternal Black, Live at WFMU
14. IAH, IAH
15. Bong Wish, Bong Wish EP
16. Rattlesnake, Outlaw Boogie Demo
17. Hollow Leg, Murder
18. Mars Red Sky, Myramyd
19. Avon, Six Wheeled Action Man Tank 7″
20. Wretch, Bastards Born

Honorable Mention

Across Tundras, Blood for the Sun / Hearts for the Rain
The Discussion, Tour EP
Fungus Hill, Creatures
Switchblade Jesus & Fuzz Evil, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven
The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny
Test Meat, Demo
Blood Mist, Blood Mist
Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell
Dautha, Den Foerste
Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti
Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 2
Decasia, The Lord is Gone
Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore, Split 7″

I can’t imagine I won’t add a name or two or five to this section over the next few days as I think of other things and people remind me of stuff and so on, so keep an eye out, but the point is there’s way more than just what made the top 20. That Across Tundras single would probably be on the list proper just on principle, but I heard it like a week ago and it doesn’t seem fair. Speaking of unfair, The Discussion, Howling Giant, The Grand Astoria and the Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore split all deserve numbered placement easily. I might have to make this a top 30 in 2018, just to assuage my own guilt at not being able to include everything I want to include. For now though, yeah, this is just the tip of the doomberg.

Notes

To be totally honest with you, that Lo-Pan EP came out Jan. 13 and pretty much had the year wrapped up in my head from that point on. It was going to be hard for anything to top In Tensions, and the Godhunter swansong EP came close for the sense of stylistic adventurousness it wrought alone, and ditto that for Year of the Cobra’s bold aesthetic expansions on Burn Your Dead and Shroud Eater’s droning Three Cvrses, but every time I heard Jeff Martin singing “Pathfinder,” I knew it was Lo-Pan’s year and all doubt left my mind. Of course, for the Ohio four-piece, In Tensions is something of a one-off with the departure already of guitarist Adrian Zambrano, but I still have high hopes for their next record. It would be hard not to.

The top five is rounded out by Stubb’s extended jam/single “Burning Moon,” which was a spacey delight and new ground for them to cover. The self-titled debut EP from Philly psych rockers Canyon, which they’ve already followed up, is next. I haven’t had the chance to hear the new one yet, but Canyon hit a sweet spot of psychedelia and heavy garage that made me look forward to how they might develop, so I’ll get there sooner or later. Solace’s return was nothing to balk at with their cassingle “Bird of Ill Omen” and the Sabbath cover with which they paired it, and though Kings Destroy weirded out suitably on the 14-minute single-song EP None More, I hear even greater departures are in store with their impending fourth LP, currently in progress.

A couple former bandmates of mine feature in Tarpit Boogie in guitarist George Pierro and bassist John Eager, and both are top dudes to be sure, but even if we didn’t have that history, it would be hard to ignore the tonal statement they made on their Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam EP. If you didn’t hear it, go chase it down on Bandcamp. Speaking of statements, Supersonic Blues’ Supersonic Blues Theme 7″ was a hell of an opening salvo of classic boogie that I considered to be one of the most potential-laden offerings of the year. Really. Such warmth to their sound, but still brimming with energy in the most encouraging of ways. Another one that has to be heard to be believed.

The dudes are hardly newcomers, but Grief offshoot Come to Grief sounded pretty fresh — and raw — on their The Worst of Times EP, and the Massachusetts extremists check in right ahead of fellow New Englangers Rope Trick, who are an offshoot themselves of drone experimentalists Queen Elephantine. Red Tape was a demo in the demo tradition, and pretty formative sounding, but seemed to give them plenty of ground on which to develop their aesthetic going forward, and I wouldn’t ask more of it than that.

Eternal Black gave a much-appreciated preview of their Bleed the Days debut long-player with Live at WFMU and earned bonus points for recording it at my favorite radio station, while Argentine trio IAH probably went under a lot of people’s radar with their self-titled EP but sent a fervent reminder that that country’s heavy scene is as vibrant as ever. Boston-based psych/indie folk outfit Bong Wish were just the right combination of strange, melodic and acid-washed to keep me coming back to their self-titled EP on Beyond Beyond is Beyond, and as Adam Kriney of The Golden Grass debuted his new project Rattlesnake with the Outlaw Boogie demo, the consistency of his songcraft continued to deliver a classic feel. Another one to watch out for going into the New Year.

I wasn’t sure if it was fair to include Hollow Leg’s Murder or not since it wound up getting paired with a special release of their latest album, but figured screw it, dudes do good work and no one’s likely to yell about their inclusion here. If you want to quibble, shoot me a comment and quibble away. Mars Red Sky only released Myramyd on vinyl — no CD, no digital — and I never got one, but heard a private stream at one point and dug that enough to include them here anyway. They remain perennial favorites.

Avon, who have a new record out early in 2018 on Heavy Psych Sounds, delivered one of the year’s catchiest tracks with the “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” single. I feel like I’ve had that song stuck in my head for the last two months, mostly because I have. And Wretch may or may not be defunct at this point — I saw word that drummer Chris Gordon was leaving the band but post that seems to have disappeared now, so the situation may be in flux — but their three-songer Bastards Born EP was a welcome arrival either way. They round out the top 20 because, well, doom. Would be awesome to get another LP out of them, but we’ll see I guess.

One hopes that nothing too egregious was left off, but one again, if there’s something you feel like should be here that isn’t, please consider the invitation to leave a comment open and let me know about it. Hell, you know what? Give me your favorites either way, whether you agree with this list or not. It’s list season, do it up. I know there’s the Year-End Poll going, and you should definitely contribute to that if you haven’t, but what was your favorite EP of the year? The top five? Top 10? I’m genuinely curious. Let’s talk about it.

Whether you have a pick or not (and I hope you do), thanks as always for reading. May the assault of short releases continue unabated in 2018 and beyond.

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Review & Track Premiere: Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

year-of-the-cobra-burn-your-dead

[Click play above to stream ‘The Descent’ from Year of the Cobra’s new EP, Burn Your Dead, out Oct. 27 via Magnetic Eye Records.]

Play raw, take chances — this might very well be the ethic under which Year of the Cobra operate. The Seattle two-piece issued one of 2016’s finest debut full-lengths via STB Records with …In the Shadows Below (review here), and their follow-up EP, Burn Your Dead, arrives via Magnetic Eye Records with five songs that not only continue the thread from that offering, but push forward the sense of stylistic adventurousness that began to show itself there. To wit, no doubt the core of …In the Shadows Below was in the heavy rock roll conjured together by bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith (interview here) and drummer Jon Barrysmith.

Together, they offered thickened groove and memorable nod given all the more of a post-Acid King feel thanks to the production of Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, so many others I get embarrassed even listing them). A song like “Vision of Three” reveled in a churning tempo where “Persephone” and “White Wizard” offered a speedier take, but heft was at the root one way or the other, and while that continues on the 25-minute Burn Your Dead, there’s also significant branching out being done on aesthetic terms, as Amy and Jon not only reaffirm what they did with the preceding album in a piece like “Cold” or “The Howl,” but move brazenly and boldly forward as songwriters less bound by genre than they were even a year ago with the LP.

They’ve done a fair amount of touring to support …In the Shadows Below and did for the prior 2015 three-songer The Black Sun (review here) as well, and if that’s the source of the progression shown in Burn Your Dead, then all the better for it being so well earned, but wherever it might stem from, it finds Year of the Cobra with a burgeoning sense of fearlessness when it comes to their craft. Yes, songs like opener “Cold” and the subsequent “The Descent” are still heavy in the sense of the weighted tonality of Amy‘s bass and the crash of Jon‘s drums. However, the confidence and range of Amy‘s vocals has seen a marked increase, and a headphone listen reveals in “Cold” vague, deeply-mixed whispers behind her verse lines that, along with the keys playing the root notes throughout and other vague samples in the open, between-chorus midsection, add not only a sense of the ethereal, but a sense of horror atmosphere as well that comes through subtler and creepier than the average Hammer Productions movie clip.

year of the cobra billy anderson

“Cold” revives its shove patiently and builds intensity on Jon‘s snare as it makes its way back to the hook, but the immediate message is that Year of the Cobra didn’t even come close to playing their full hand on the debut, and each of the songs that follows adds something of its own to the proceedings, whether it’s the late-Kylesa proggy melodicism of “The Descent,” the raw punker scathe and gang shouts of “Burn Your Dead,” the doom pop croon and swirl of “The Howl” or how “And They Sang…” rounds out seeming to smash “The Descent” and “Burn Your Dead” together with sudden changes in pace and spaciousness.

In this jumping from one feel to another, Burn Your Dead is very much an EP — essentially a showcase for Year of the Cobra‘s growing audience of ideas that might or might not come to further fruition in their sound that simultaneously expands the context of the band as a whole — but that does nothing to undercut the quality of their performance, construction or attention to detail. Whether it’s the thrust of “Burn Your Dead” and “And They Sang…” or the taking-its-time fluidity of “The Descent” from whence the former charges out, the duo are careful in their presentation. Not necessarily in a way that undercuts the natural feel of their sound as two players — “play raw, take chances” — but the taking-chances part of that equation finds them perhaps capitalizing on the impulse that drove “Temple of Apollo” toward such poppishness on …In the Shadows Below; that same feeling of not shying away from manifesting an idea because it might not strictly conform to the tenets of genre.

If Burn Your Dead has an underlying purpose, it might be to realize this notion as a central aspect of Year of the Cobra‘s approach, and if so, the EP is all the more praiseworthy both on its own level and in the metamorphic sensibility it adds to the release that came before it, essentially enriching an already rich listen by building so gracefully on its foundation. It may make it harder to predict where Year of the Cobra might go with their next batch of material — other than on tour; that’s a pretty easy guess — but whether they seek to tie the melodic airiness of “The Howl” to a more earthbound nodder vibe or simply take Burn Your Dead as a model for adopting multiple sonic facets simultaneously across a broader collection of tracks and somehow manage to create fluidity between them, the band leaves little doubt as to their ability to manipulate and foster their individualism as they see fit while maintaining a strong grip on their songwriting.

Wherever they go on Burn Your Dead, they never seem lost, and thus it is all the more a joy to follow Year of the Cobra along this brief journey. A sure-fire bet as one of 2017’s best short releases.

Year of the Cobra on Thee Facebooks

Year of the Cobra on Bandcamp

Magnetic Eye Records website

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

Magnetic Eye Records on Thee Facebooks

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Year of the Cobra Tour Starts Sept. 28; Burn Your Dead EP out Oct. 27

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

So here’s the deal: I’ve heard the new Year of the Cobra EP, Burn Your Dead, which as the headline above says is out Oct. 27 on Magnetic Eye Records. It’s got five tracks on it and each one gives a different look at a new place the Seattle two-piece of Amy Tung and Jon Barrysmith are going with their sound coming off their 2016 debut, …In the Shadows Below (review here). That’s a pretty impressive feat it itself, but you should note that while a given song might be more leaning toward punk or ambient fare, whatever it is, it’s still all tied together through a sense of sonic weight and so the progression from the LP makes sense. It’s like they took a cue from “Temple of Apollo” on the record, which toyed with poppishness in a particularly brave way, and decided they could do whatever the hell they wanted with their sound and it would be fine.

I’ll have a proper review up sooner or later, but that’s the gist of it. Bottom line is it bodes really well for their next full-length in terms of showcasing genuine growth on the part of the band.

You might recall Year of the Cobra did the first leg of a tour this past summer when the initial hints of the EP release were dropped. Well, the second leg starts Sept. 28. Dates are below.

Here’s a press release I wrote, as circled back through the PR wire:

year-of-the-cobra-burn-your-dead

YEAR OF THE COBRA Put the Past Behind Them; New EP ‘Burn Your Dead’ out Oct. 27

Year of the Cobra (Amy Tung and Jon Barrysmith) are moving forward. Unmitigated, unhindered, unrestrained. The Seattle bass and drum two-piece boldly tackle new styles and new substance on new EP, Burn Your Dead.

Produced like their 2016 STB Records debut full-length, …In the Shadows Below, by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, the Melvins, etc.) at The Type Foundry in Portland, Oregon, Burn Your Dead still offers plenty of tonal largesse to go with its striking Joshua M. Wilkinson cover art.

But its five tracks also showcase new avenues of exploration for Year of the Cobra, whether it’s the ambience and creepy sampling worked into opener “Cold,” the progressive atmospheric rock of “The Howl” and centerpiece “The Descent,” reaching new heights of melodic accomplishment in Tung’s vocals, or the uptempo punker thrust of the gang-shouting title-track and the finale “And They Sang.”

That final track not only conveys the rawness of Year of the Cobra’s live show but – bolstered by the mastering work of Justin Weis at Trakworx in San Francisco – also the growth they’ve been able to enact through such relentless road work since their 2015 debut EP, The Black Sun, which has seen them quickly become coast-to-coast veterans, hit Europe for the first time and appear at Psycho Las Vegas and other festivals around the country, never failing to leave a trail of blown minds in their wake.

Look for Year of the Cobra to continue their refinement in live performances as they keep their momentum toward the future with Burn Your Dead. More tours, more fests, more trips abroad – and most of all – more evolution, because as YOTC put …In the Shadows Below behind them, they answer that album’s massive, rolling groove with a boldness of stylistic expanse that on Burn Your Dead serves as a funereal procession for the expectations of anyone who thought they knew what they were getting from the band. Pure, multifaceted fire.

Tracklisting:
1. Cold
2. The Descent
3. Burn Your Dead
4. The Howl
5. And They Sang…

Band:
Amy Tung: Bass / Vocals / Keys
Jon Barrysmith: Drums

On Tour:
Thu Sep 28 – Bozeman MT – The Filling Station
Fri Sep 29 – Black Hills Vinyl – Rapid City SD
Sat Sep 30 – Stoned Meadow of Doom – Sioux Falls SD
Sun Oct 1 – Kansas City – TBA
Mon Oct 2 – Highland’s Taproom Metal Monday – Louisville KY
Tue Oct 3 – Frequency – Madison WI
Wed Oct 4 – Reggie’s Music Joint – Chicago IL
Thu Oct 5 – Green Bay WI – TBA
Friday Oct 6 – Doomed and Stoned – Indianapolis IN
Saturday Oct 7 – Doomed and Stoned – Indianapolis IN
Sunday Oct 8 – Des Moines IA – TBA
Monday Oct 9 – Denver CO – TBA
Tuesday Oct 10 – Salt Lake City UT – Beehive Social Club
Wednesday Oct 11- Bottom of the Hill – San Francisco CA
Thursday Oct 12 – Bunk Bar – Portland, OR
Friday Oct 13 – Manette Saloon – Bremerton WA
Saturday Oct 14 – Eugene OR – The Black Forest

Pre-orders: https://yearofthecobra.bandcamp.com/album/burn-your-dead

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

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

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Year of the Cobra Announce First Leg of US Tour; New EP Due Oct. 29

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

Leading up to and through an appearance at Psycho Las Vegas on Aug. 20, Seattle duo Year of the Cobra will once again hit the road in support of last year’s stunner debut album, …In the Shadows Below (review here). The band, who were recently interviewed here, have wrapped up tracking a new EP with none other than Billy Anderson, and they’ll have that out Oct. 29 to follow-up the album and hopefully lead into more good stuff to come.

As to that, they note below “some other big news” that’s forthcoming — in addition to a second leg of the US tour. Anyone care to speculate with me? They’ve got the EP, so it’s early for second album plans. Could be word on a different label releasing the EP. The long-player was released by STB Records, who did a killer job with it, but neither would it surprise me if someone picked up Year of the Cobra like Relapse or Napalm. They’ve broken their collective ass on the road supporting the album and, well, they’re a good band, which also never hurts when it comes to that kind of thing. Could also just be details of the EP release, art, tracks and whatnot. Or a return trip to Europe, perhaps for Fall festival season and to coincide with the EP release?

So many different possibilities. And of course I could be way off on all of the above and it could be something else entirely. If I had to place one, that would probably be my bet. Ha.

The band sent the following down the PR wire:

year-of-the-cobra-tour-poster

Year of the Cobra – US Tour First Leg

Year of the Cobra hits the road in August for the first leg of their US tour, including an appearance at Psycho Las Vegas. The band also just finished recording a new EP with Billy Anderson. Tentative release date for that is October 29th. Expect an announcement soon about the second leg of their tour, along with some other big news.

Year of the Cobra live:
8.9 – Kalispell, MT at Old School Records
8.10 – Billings, MT at Smiling Dog Records
8.11 – Denver, CO at Squire Lounge
8.12 – Omaha, NB at The Lookout Lounge
8.13 – St. Paul, MN at Agharta Records (in-store performance during the day)
8.13 – Minneapolis, MN at Nomad
8.14 – Chicago, IL at Reggies
8.15 – Lawrence, KS at The Bottleneck
8.17 – Albuquerque, NM at Launchpad
8.18 – El Paso, TX at Boomtown
8.19 – Tempe, AZ at Yucca Tap Room
8.20 – Las Vegas, NV at Psycho Las Vegas
8.21 – Salt Lake City, UT at Urban Lounge
8.22 – Idaho Falls, ID at The Roadhouse Saloon
8.23 – Bozeman, MT at The Filling Station

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

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

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Six Dumb Questions with Year of the Cobra

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on May 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

Earlier this Spring, Seattle duo Year of the Cobra made their way to Europe for the first time to play and tour around Germany’s Hell over Hammaburg festival. They’d already spent a decent portion of 2016 on the road leading up to and supporting the STB Records release of their debut full-length, …In the Shadows Below (review here), and given the momentum they established in so doing and the formidable response the Billy Anderson-produced offering garnered, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before they undertook the trip. One sincerely doubts it will be their last.

Since they put out their three-song EP, The Black Sun (review here), in 2015 through Devil’s Child Records and DHU RecordsYear of the Cobra — bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith and drummer Jon Barrysmith — have worked hard to find and audience and been markedly successful in that regard. With a style that offers as much space as it does rumble and heavy groove to spare, cuts like “Vision of Three,” “Temple of Apollo” and “Electric Warrior” leave memorably rolling impressions, and the push of “Spider and the Fly” subtly incorporates elements of classic pop/rock in a way few heavy acts would dare on a fifth album, let alone a first.

Amid rumors of new material in progress, participation in Magnetic Eye Records‘ much anticipated Pink Floyd tribute, The Wall [Redux], a slot Psycho Las Vegas this August and much more, it seemed well past time to chase down the band for a quick Q&A. As they make ready to move forward from …In the Shadows Below, they also have a new video for “Temple of Apollo” that recently premiered and which you can see at the bottom of this post. I put the album stream down there too, because I figured there’s a good chance that after you hear the one track you’ll probably want to put the rest of the thing on anyway. Might as well make it easy.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

year-of-the-cobra-in-the-shadows-below

Six Dumb Questions with Amy Tung Barrysmith of Year of the Cobra

It seemed like …In the Shadows Below got such a massive response, even after the EP did really well. Were you surprised by how the album was received?

Of course. You never know what people will think. It was important for us to follow the EP with a strong LP, and we were very deliberate and particular about every aspect of it from the musicality to the art design. But, after all that work, you really never know how people will receive it. All you can do is hope that your vision comes through and that people understand and like it as much as you do.

Tell me about recording with Billy Anderson. What made you go with him as a producer? What was the atmosphere in the studio like, how long were you in there, and how do you feel about the results on the album itself?

Well, he’s recorded a lot of our favorite records and was at the top of our “wish list,” so we sent him an email asking if he’d be interested and he responded the next day saying he liked the band and was on board. We were so stoked. We only met him a handful of times before we went into the studio so we weren’t really sure what to expect. In pictures, he can look really intimidating, but in person, he’s just a super witty, goofy guy.

He made the atmosphere so light and fun but was still able to coax out these crushing tones and performances. It was incredible. We spent a total of nine days in the studio with him recording. He spent several days mixing on his own and we went back for a final mix session, but before we were even done mixing, we were both really excited about what we had produced. It went beyond our expectations. He’s definitely the third member of YOTC.

You guys went to Europe for the first time in March. How was that trip? Tell me about the shows and the experience of going abroad to play. What were the crowds like? What were your expectations going into it and do you feel like they were met?

Europe was amazing. The main reason we went was to play Hell over Hammaburg Festival in Hamburg, Germany. We figured since we were going, we’d book a small tour around it. We weren’t sure what to expect, in all honesty. This first tour was a bit of a litmus test to see how we would do. Would we have a crowd? Would we be well received? Would it be worth going back for a longer tour?

All of it went better than we could have expected. There were people wearing our t-shirts or sweatshirts at every show!! People were singing along and many told us they had driven for hours to come see us play. It was incredible. Hell over Hammaburg Festival was a blast as well. It was so well organized and diverse and it was sold out! When we were packing to leave to go back home, we were both blown away at how well everything went and were kicking ourselves for not staying longer. Next time!

Tell me about being in a band with your partner. You’ve been able to tour steadily with the two of you, but how does having Year of the Cobra as an extension of your relationship play out? Not to get too personal, but does the band relationship just become part of the whole broader relationship, or is it its own thing?

That’s a good question. I don’t think either of us knows where one starts and the other ends, in terms of relationship vs. bandmates. What’s nice is that we complement each other in both our relationship and our band. One of us might be good at one thing, while the other is good at something else. We never sit down and divvy up jobs, we just kind of naturally go about it and it all gets done. The good thing is, we both feel like we’re equals working as a team because we have a common goal, we have the same work ethic, and we have similar artistic views. It makes everything work pretty smoothly.

I hear there’s new material in the works. How far along are you in writing? Is there anything specific you’re trying to do coming off of the debut?

We’re really excited about the new material!! We hit the studio at the end of June with Billy Anderson at the helm again. We’ll be recording an EP plus two songs that will go on the Magnetic Eye Records Pink Floyd Redux. We’ve spent the past couple of months focusing solely on writing new songs and were able to debut one of them at our last show! There is still a lot more work to do, but we’re definitely on track.

You’ve mentioned going back to Europe this Fall and you’ll play Psycho Las Vegas in August. Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

We have some US tours being booked around Psycho Las Vegas in August and Stoned Meadow of Doom (Omaha) and Doomed and Stoned (Indianapolis) in September/October respectively. It will be fun to get back to some of the cities we hit last summer.

The EP will be released in the fall as well, so there is a lot of stuff piling up at the end of the year. Europe, sadly, didn’t work out for October, but we’re planning on going back next spring/summer. Stay tuned, we have many more announcements coming soon. Things are ramping up in the YOTC camp.

Year of the Cobra, “Temple of Apollo” official video

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

Year of the Cobra on Thee Facebooks

Year of the Cobra on Bandcamp

STB Records on Thee Facebooks

STB Records BigCartel store

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Desert Survival: How to Do Psycho Las Vegas on a Budget

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas 2017 banner

Hey, if you’re going to go broke, let’s face it: You’re not likely to run into many causes as worthy as the lineup culled together for Psycho Las Vegas. It ain’t cheap — any event that advertises a payment plan obviously knows it’s a considerable ask — but whether you’re going to see Slo Burn for their only US gig or King Diamond doing Abigail or Mulatu Astatke because going to see Mulatu Astatke is a life-event, the arguments in favor are plentiful and convincing. Whatever else you want to say, Psycho Las Vegas is the first annually-held American festival with a focus on heavy and underground rock to really establish itself as world class.

That in itself is a reason to support the cause, whether it’s through a day ticket or a pass for the entire weekend, but it doesn’t necessarily lesson the expense of making the trip or staying in one of the US’ most lucrative tourist traps, let alone things like band merchandise, meals and the occasional adult beverage if you’re inclined to have one. The thought of seeing NeurosisSleep and Carcass share a stage over the course of a weekend or watching Conan, the new trio-incarnation of Pentagram and Yawning Man poolside or from the balcony of a room in the Casino Tower is incredible, and after hearing stories from those who undertook the journey in 2016 or attended the prior Psycho California in 2015, the idea wants nothing for appeal. Fiscal issues can be a bummer. By the time August rolls around, I’ll have been out of paid work for two months. I know how it goes.

And I’m hardly the most responsible person when it comes to money, but the truth of the matter is there are ways to mitigate costs for travel, lodging and other concerns, and if the thing preventing you from picking up a ticket to the show has been the seeming impossibility of affording a stay at the Hard Rock or of finding a cheap-enough flight to get there, maybe it’s worth trying to shift finances around to make it happen. Music is important, and when debt collectors are spamming your phone it’s hard to think about the non-cash value of life experiences, but the fact is the bills you need to pay will still be there. The bill with Corrosion of Conformity in a lineup alongside Kylesa‘s Laura Pleasants, Domkraft, Swans, Elephant Tree and Heavy Temple? Much less so.

Here are a few pointers that hopefully can save you a couple bucks. Some of it’s day-one stuff, but things like hotel picks and transportation nuances are good to know either way.

Check it out:

psycho-las-vegas-2017-poster

Flying In
• Buy tickets on a Tuesday for the cheapest rates.
• Use a discount flight search.
• If you can, fly in on Thursday and leave on Monday for better rates, search different days and times to come in and leave.
• Book early. Rates go up in the summer.

Getting There
• Ride apps cost less than cabs.
• The Hard Rock is less than a mile from the airport. Cheap trip anyway.
• There are free shuttles from most Vegas hotels to the strip and tourist attractions.

Staying There
• This one is huge… don’t stay at the Hard Rock if you can’t afford it! Alexis Park, RUMOR, Red Roof Inn are all across the street and cheap. Scope out a position on a map if you need to; that’s what Street View is there for.
• Partner up to share rooms. You’ve got social media and it’s not like you’re going to do more than sleep and (hopefully) shower there anyway. Might as well join forces and save expense where you can.

Drinks
• BYO. Vegas has open-container laws. If you think hooch is too expensive at the Hard Rock, get loaded on the sidewalk before you go in.
• One way or another, hydrate. You’re staying in the desert in August. Don’t be stupid.

Psycho Las Vegas 2017 Lineup
Abbath, Ace Frehley, Black Anvil, Blood Ceremony, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Buzzov*en, Carcass, Celeste, Chelsea Wolfe, Cirith Ungol, Cloud Catcher, Code Orange, Conan, Corrosion of Conformity, Cough, Cult Leader, Cult Of Luna With Julie Christmas Diamond Head, Domkraft, Earthless, Elephant Tree, Eternal Tapestry, Fister, Floorian, Gatecreeper, GEQ, Gojira, Gost, Graf Orlock, Heavy Temple, Hollow Leg, Inter Arma, Khemmis, King Diamond, Laura Pleasants & Special Guests, Magma, Manilla Road, Merlin, Minsk, Morne, Mothership, Mouth of the Architect, Mulatu Astatke, Murder City Devils, Mustard Gas & Roses, Myrkur, Neurosis, North, Oathbreaker, Pelican, Pentagram, Psychic TV, The Rods, Ruby the Hatchet, Sasquatch, Saturndust, Sleep, Slo Burn, Slomatics, Snail, Sons of Otis, Sumac, Summoner, Swans, The Skull, Toke, Urchin, Usnea, Vhol, Weedeater, Windhand, Wizard Rifle, Wolves in the Throne Room, Yawning Man, Year of the Cobra, Youngblood Supercult, Zeal & Ardor.

http://www.vivapsycho.com
https://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas
https://www.instagram.com/psycholasvegas

Pentagram, “Relentless / Broken Vows” Live in Richmond, VA, 2017

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Magnetic Eye Records Adds Greenleaf, Mars Red Sky, Pallbearer, Yawning Man, ASG, Ruby the Hatchet, Sasquatch and More to The Wall [Redux]

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The clock is ticking on the crowdfunding campaign to support the making and release of Magnetic Eye Records‘ upcoming Pink Floyd tribute, The Wall [Redux], and the NY-based label has broken out some big guns in terms of confirmations for who will take part. Greenleaf, Mars Red Sky, Pallbearer, Ruby the Hatchet, ASG, Yawning Man, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and Sasquatch, as well as the likes of Swedish crushers Domkraft, L.A.’s LowFlyingHawks and Ghastly Sound from the label’s own roster — along with the previously-announced Summoner — would seem to only bolster the offering as a whole, for which preorders are being taken directly through the Kickstarter. This is the third of these projects Magnetic Eye has done, and as ever, the scope of the thing is massive and the logistics seem, frankly, nightmarish.

You don’t need me to sell you on shit and you already know this is a cause worthy of your support, so I’ll spare you all that it’s-an-emergency-you-gotta-help-out whatnot, but suffice it to say that this thing happening only makes the world a better place. So there you go.

Here’s the latest update, courtesy of the label:

the wall redux

Magnetic Eye’s ambitious homage to Pink Floyd, THE WALL [REDUX], has gained some serious momentum in the final week of its preorder/crowdfunding campaign. The confirmation of several higher-profile artists, including Greenleaf, Pallbearer, Mars Red Sky, Yawning Man, Sasquatch and Noveller all signing on to bring their distinct voices to the project has prompted the MER to add an exclusive “Best of Pink Floyd” companion LP for Kickstarter backers. This complement to the main THE WALL [REDUX] will feature a range of cuts from throughout the Floyd catalog by even more fantastic artists from the scene and beyond.

There are still a few days left to support the project by pre-ordering one of several versions of the record, all of which will reflect Magnetic Eye’s well-documented aesthetic and penchant for gorgeous vinyl. This also means there’s still time for a final few hush-hush conversations to potentially yield even more intriguing artist confirmations.

To see what an undertaking this has been (and what an amazing spectacle the finished albums will surely be), here’s a quick review of the latest list of confirmed bands and an exclusive first reveal of some tracks, with numerous more still to be announced:

ASG, “Mother”
Domkraft
Ghastly Sound
Greenleaf
Mos Generator
Low Flying Hawks (feat. Dale Crover of The Melvins)
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard
Mars Red Sky, “Comfortably Numb”
Pallbearer, “Run Like Hell”
Ruby the Hatchet, “Pigs” (The Best of Pink Floyd)
Sasquatch
Sergeant Thunderhoof
The Slim Kings (feat. drummer Liberty DeVitto)
Solace, “In the Flesh”
Summoner
The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic (feat. Ed Mundell of Monster Magnet)
WhiteNails
Worshipper
Yawning Man
Year of the Cobra

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/magneticeye/the-wall-2
store.merhq.com
http://magneticeyerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords

Mars Red Sky, Alien Grounds short film

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