PH Post “Origo” Artwork Video; Osiris Hayden Due Nov. 1

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ph

Peel open your brain and embrace the Hayden. An artwork-based video is the most appropriate outlet for PH at this stage in their seemingly ongoing evolution. As the Finnish atmospheric heavy experimentalists prepare the ground for the Nov. 1 Svart Records release of their new album, Osiris Hayden (review here), rife with cinematic soul-stirring synth, electronic soundscaping and a vague sense of futurism that’s neither u- nor dystopian, they’ve got a duly purple clip up for “Origo,” the nine-minute highlight/focal point of the offering and arguably its deepest plummet into the depths of weighted ambience. PH — also known as Mr. Peter Hayden at their outset — have never been a group to compromise their creative impulses, and their path has led them continually outward into climes (and climbs) both weirder and more gloriously spaced. In that regard, Osiris Hayden fits right in with the bunch.

So is this the part where I warn you about flashing lights and stuff like that? Oh, most definitely. “Origo” isn’t the most visually abrasive, by any means, but if you’re particularly sensitive to such things, you’re going to want to watch out. Still, it’s hard to imagine a song like this presented another way. It wouldn’t work as a band-in-rehearsal-space video, or even live unless it was done with some kind of visual twist maybe, but what the artwork clip allows PH to do is remove the human element from the creation itself and focus instead on the sound and atmosphere of the track, letting that shine through as what really matters and give their audience in some way a purer glimpse at the work than they might otherwise get. With the sense of immersion that “Origo” brings, it becomes all the more visually hypnotic as the pink/purple and black swap in rapid succession around the logo that has also become the band’s moniker, PH, as seen in the photo above. These guys have spent the last decade out on their own wavelength. With Osiris Hayden, they sound more at home there than ever before.

Dig into “Origo” on the player below. Preorder links for the record, live dates in suitably reverse-future order and further PR wire whatnot follow.

Please enjoy:

PH, “Origo” official video

Visual video for ‘Origo’ on Svart Records’ Youtube channel. Audio available on Spotify and other digital platforms. ‘Osiris Hayden’ album to be released on November 1st on LP/CD via Svart Records.

Pre-orders available at:
Svart Records: https://bit.ly/2kqyRdN
Levykauppa Äx: https://bit.ly/2lZ2Qdi
Shiny Beast: https://bit.ly/2m534PX
Bandcamp: https://bit.ly/2m0GeJz

Upcoming live shows:
December 13th, On the Rocks, Helsinki
December 6th, Bar 15, Seinäjoki
December 5th, Suistoklubi, Hämeenlinna
November 21st, Henry’s Pub Kuopio, Kuopio

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Friday Full-Length: Bang, Bang

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

 

Of course, the 1972 self-titled outing from Philadelphia power trio Bang is one of any number of releases in its era living in a long shadow cast by Black Sabbath, but in listening to a tracks like “Come with Me” and “Our Home,” the three-piece may have been a couple years ahead of the reality masters at their own game in terms of sound. The overall affect of the eight-track/34-minute LP is raw in its sound even in its various reissue incarnations, but the tones of guitarist Frankie Gilcken and bassist Frank Ferrara are a little more Sabbath-circa-’75 than they are Sabbath-circa-’72, and Ferrara‘s vocals — with backing from Gilcken and lyrics by drummer Tony Diorio — are more malleable than even Ozzy at his ’74-’76 era peak as a singer. But the working class sensibility behind early heavy rock and what one might now consider proto-metal bled into Bang‘s riffs and even the mood of a wistful cut like “Last Will” — its hook, “Happy people make their way through the world every day/Saddened people they can’t seem to find their way across that rejected line” s standout chorus rightly leaned on — draws from it. Recorded after the then-shelved 1971 concept LP, Death of a Country, and released as their debut the same year as its follow-up, Mother/Bow to the King, Bang‘s Bang has long been considered the band’s defining statement and a landmark of the original era of underground heavy rock and roll.

Imagine it’s 1972 and you’re one of three kids from Philly just signed to Capitol Records and they send you down to Miami to record with producer Michael Sunday, who’s just a couple years off working with Blue Cheer on their 1969 self-titled, and engineer Carl Richardson, who’d just had a hand in CactusRestrictions the year before. True, their confidence might’ve been shaken by having their first recording shelved, but still. One shudders to think of the amount of cocaine and who the hell knows what else might’ve been consumed at Criteria Studios, but whether the answer there is “all of it,” “none” or somewhere in between, the fact remains that nothing gets in the way of the songs on Bang. Like the logo on the front cover that would in itself become iconic over the course of the decade since it first appeared, the tracks that comprise Bang stand the test of time because of their inherent structure and the vitality with which they’re presented by the band. Late-arriving singles “Questions” and “Redman” — which is a word that I’m not even comfortable typing, honestly — reinforce this notion at the end of side B, but one need look no further than the opening salvo of the riffy, strutting “Lions, Christians” and the swing-happy “The Queen” to figure it out: This is prime ’70s heavy that has in no small way helped shape the definition thereof. Whether it’s Diorio‘s fills on “The Queen” or Ferrara‘s out-for-a-walk bassline on the prior opener, Bang are not shy about their intent and neither should they be. In answering their label’s call for something more straightforward to be released as their first album, they went back and wrote nothing less than a handful of classics.

bang bang

Go ahead and add the aforementioned quieter “Last Will” and the subsequent chug of “Come with Me” to that list as well, and really, when you factor in side B’s mega-hook in “Our Home” and the nodder riff of “Future Shock,” there isn’t a clunker in the bunch on the LP. “Future Shock” in particular emphasizes something Bang did exceptionally well even among their peers of the day in bringing together Gilcken, Ferrara and Diorio around a deceptively mid-paced groove. It would seem that, of the various lessons the three-piece took from Black Sabbath, that pace plays a role in dictating heaviness was not at all forgotten. “Questions” is more uptempo and thus makes a fitting single (it charted, so fair enough) and “Come with Me” would seem to be about as close to frenetic as Bang got, but though hardly subdued, “The Queen” maintains an overarching groove that’s still laid back despite being pushed along so fervently by the drums, and the same is true of the closer as well, and the brightness of the chorus melody there and in “Our Home” lends Bang a positive sensibility that even some of its moodier aspects in “Last Will” don’t undercut anymore than they mean to. It’s not as dynamic as some of the work they’d do later in their career, but Bang only thrives for the energy captured in a formative moment for the band.

Again, they’d follow it up with Mother/Bow to the King the same year — 1972 — and release Music on Capitol in 1973. That was it until 2000’s RTZ – Return to Zero and 2004’s The Maze, both self-released, but renewed interest came with reissues of their original work through Green Tree Records in Germany and eventually through Rise Above, which put out the Bullets box set in 2010 and gave Death of a Country its first official release in 2011. They’d tour with Pentagram in 2014, play the Psycho Las Vegas predecessor, Psycho California, in 2015 and do Roadburn in 2016 on a European run that got cut short when then-drummer Jake Leger abruptly went AWOL. They came back with the Franks and a new drummer to play Maryland Doom Fest in 2016 and 2017, roughly concurrent to Svart Records reissuing their back catalog, and though live activity has been sparse, last year, Ripple Music released a compilation, The Best of Bang, that of course highlights the songcraft that’s always been so essential to their righteousness.

I was fortunate enough to see Bang every night of their 2014 West Coast and East Coast tours as I was traveling with Kings Destroy, and I’ll say that as I listen to their self-titled now the versions I still hear in my head are coming from the band live, and that every time I saw them, without exception, including at Roadburn and Maryland Doom Fest, the absolute joy and appreciation for what they were doing and for the fact that, after two generations, they’d finally found the audience they’d long since deserved, was infectious. You could not watch them and not be happy for them. If that makes me less impartial about the album, so be it. I’ll take being a fan instead.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Up and down week. Most are. Shit is complicated. Money is complicated. It’s a lonely semester with The Patient Mrs. starting a new job and a schedule that has her gone a lot of the day on a lot of days, so it’s just The Pecan and I for a lot of the week. Plus this week I was recovering from the trip to Norway and yeah. It was just a lot. Any angle you want to take. A lot.

Next week, premieres for Hazemaze, Woodhawk, Hot Breath and Ogre, not necessarily in that order. Plus a review of the Death Hawks LP reissues which Svart was kind enough to send my way, and whatever else happens to come down the pike. That’s kind of how it goes these days. My calendar is pretty full through the end of the month as it is. Sometimes people are like, “hey can you do this thing tomorrow?” and I have to say no. Sorry folks. My brain’s melted as it is. Burnout is real.

I slept through my alarm I guess on Wednesday? Maybe Tuesday? It felt like the end of the fucking universe, whatever day it was. To lose that two-plus hours of writing before The Pecan gets up in the morning? Holy shit, that’s my whole day. That’s what keeps me sane, let alone on pace with stuff around here. The Patient Mrs. came through in the pinch and gave me extra time to work after she got home from teaching class, but without that, I’d have been properly fooked. A reminder of the fragility of the whole thing, I guess. Drop a piano on it and see what happens. Mostly to my mental state.

There’s more, but I’ve no inclination toward further navelgazing — well, I do, but I’ll deny it — and I want to get another post live before the kid wakes up and needs a diaper, breakfast, I need to shower, etc., so off I go. I wish you the greatest and safest of weekends. Have fun, do what you do. Forum, radio, new merch coming soon, old merch I think still available.

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Video Premiere: Electric Jaguar Baby, “Witch I Love” from Self-Titled LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

electric jaguar baby

The Oct. 25 release of Electric Jaguar Baby‘s self-titled debut long-player follows behind an impressive string of three EPs issued over two years. Obviously the Parisian duo are on the same page when it comes to songwriting. Their output would seem to manifest that as well, listening to the advance single “Witch I Love.” They had previously streamed the track as a teaser for the album to come — and fair enough so, it’s catchy as hell — but have now backed that up with a video to really make their case. Again, fair enough. With the full-length so impending, the zero-nonsense strut of “Witch I Love” feels all the more urgent in its post-Queens of the Stone Age style of riffing and vocal patterning. Frank D. and Antonio D. comprise the outfit and employ a range of guests across the album’s nine-track span, but their sound is ultimately only further distinguished and bolstered by the inherent rawness of recording as a duo, and that comes through in “Witch I Love” as well.

But the primary impression, of course, is in the whole affect of the song itself, and by that I mean the clarity of intention behind it. Think later Homme, not so much Songs for the Deaf or even Lullabies to Paralyze, but the QOTSA sound thereafter and the sidestep of Them Crooked Vultures, and you’ll get a sense of where the production is coming from, but more than that, listening to “Witch I Love,” the structure is air-tight. There’s a swift build in momentum over a clean 3:44 run in the video, and the hook, as noted, is right on, but listen to the track as you make your way through and ask yourself what you would leave out? What would you cut? Nothing, right? It’s not that it’s spare in any way — I’m sorry, but you just don’t call your band Electric Jaguar Baby if you’re not a style-conscious individual or group — but they absolutely nail the balance between sounding natural and conveying attitude while also having this super-strong underlying foundation of verses and chorus. It’s a classic formula, certainly, but put to good use here for sure.

As to the rest of the record, I haven’t heard it and would have to wonder what the purported “fuzz rap” of “Storm (Me Against Me)” with Mark Northey of Watkins and 7 Days Before might sound like — though I’ll admit some trepidation in finding out — but there’s no substitute for a quality single, and Electric Jaguar Baby seem to know they have one.

The video is likewise pretty straightforward: a performance clip run through a filter of analog pops to make it look like a warped tape, but well lit and edited and pro-shop generally, so dig in below. Credits follow as posted by the band.

Please enjoy:

Electric Jaguar Baby, “Witch I Love” official video premiere

NEW SINGLE 2019 ! Parisian fuzzers Debut album out October 25th !
Vinyls out via Slice of Wax Records in 3 limited editions : 3 colors and 3 screeprinted covers !
CD & K7 tapes out via El Diablo Records.

Bandcamp: https://electricjaguarbaby.bandcamp.com/merch

Video by :
Réalisation : Aurelia Authome ( @aureliaa18 )
Cadrage/assistant réal : Renaud Tilman ( @renaudtilman )
Shoot @ Mains D’oeuvres (93400 ST Ouen).

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Splinter Post Video for “Bitter Sounds”; Debut Single out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

splinter logo

Before you start feeling like you’re out of the loop — I promise you, you’re way more in the loop than I am; stuck in the rhombus over here — Splinter are a pretty new band. Based in the Netherlands (I think probably Amsterdam or somewhere thereabouts), they did what was most likely their first recording session this past March, with Igor Wouters (indeed in Amsterdam), and from that issued the debut single Hurt b/w Brand New Future that they self-released as a 7″ vinyl with the logo you see above as its cover. There was a video for “Hurt” — no it’s a not a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song later taken on by Johnny Cash — that went up last month, and that’s now been followed-up with a new clip, this time for a song called “Bitter Sounds.”

The thing about “Bitter Sounds?” It wasn’t on that single.

So clearly there’s more to come.

Fair enough. Splinter‘s heralding of a busier future is extra notable given that the band is fronted by Douwe Truijens, formerly of Death Alley, and also features guitarist Sander Bus, who was brought in as that group’s second bassist, as well as drummer Barry van Esbroek and organist Gertjan Gutman (also of Utrecht’s Birth of Joy, who played their final show in January), whose contributions to both “Hurt” and “Bitter Sounds” are significant. The sound is either a formative punker take on classic heavy rock or a formative heavy rocker take on classic punk, depending on the angle you look at it, and for an act who are just getting going, they’ve clearly got their songwriting ducks a row. That is to say, get ready to want to put on “Bitter Sounds” twice, and maybe clap along the second time.

Video follows here, and definitely stay tuned for more.

Please enjoy:

Splinter, “Bitter Sounds” official video

Recorded and mixed by Igor Wouters at Amsterdam Recording Company

Mastered by Attie Bauw at Bauwhaus

Video by Hakki Takkie, shot and cut by Max Westendorp

Splinter live:
Oct 19 Ballroom Fest Zukunft am Ostkreuz Friedrichshain

Splinter is:
Douwe Truijens – vocals
Sander Bus – guitar
Gertjan Gutman – organ
Barry van Esbroek – drums

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Besvärjelsen Premiere “All Things Break” Video; Frost EP out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

besvarjelsen

The message of Besvärjelsen‘s latest single would seem to be pretty clear, as it’s right there in the title. But there’s a secondary, more subtle lesson to be learned from “All Things Break” from the band’s recently-issued Frost EP — and especially from the video for it. That message? If you’re going to film your video on an old train bridge, be damn certain there aren’t any trains coming.

Frost was issued in August after being included in Blues Funeral Recordings‘ limited-deluxe-edition-subscription service, PostWax. I did the liner notes for that version of the five-song outing, which also included an exclusive track, and was proud to help them tell their story in that way, because, you know, good band and all that. Their approach throughout Frost was fascinating in the five members of Besvärjelsen adjourning to the out-in-the-woods home studio of guitarist/backing vocalist Andreas Baier (also of V) to record their parts, and considering that their debut album, Vallmo (review here), came out just last year, a quick turnaround to boot. The time factor does nothing to take away from the progressive sensibility of the songs, however — that is to say, they don’t sound rushed — and the pervasive moody feeling that emanated from the first LP is definitely intact in cuts like “When We Fall,” “In the Dark,” and of course, “All Things Break,” which brings us to the video in question and out to that train bridge in Sweden.

Drummer Erik Bäckwall, who, like bassist Johan Rockner, is a Dozer alum — Besvärjelsen is completed by vocalist Lea Amling Azalam and guitarist/backing vocalist Staffan Stensland Vinrot — sets the scene in his quote below, so I won’t take away from that and recount a narrative you can already read here, but I will note that the entirety of Frost can be streamed below, with the aforementioned cuts as well as the adrenaline build of “Human Habits” and the surge and deconstruction that seems to take place in seven-minute closer “Past in Haze” as the band touches new ground in drive as well as atmosphere. After you dig into the video, I hope you’ll check that out as well.

And please enjoy:

Besvärjelsen, “All Things Break” official video premiere

Lea Amling Azalam on “All Things Break”:

“‘All Things Break’ was the first song I finished for the EP. The lyrics handle the bitter side of relationships that don’t work out. It’s about the emotions when you feel left behind. Not only romantically but the general feeling of loneliness. And that everything turns to shit in the end.”

Erik Bäckwall on the video:

“The video was shot in the northwest of our region by our friend Tony at Az Foto. I had an idea of the video with us isolated in the woods to supplement the lyrics. Tony had done some location scouting and said he had a perfect place for shooting. An old railroad bridge, built in 1903, with no train traffic any more. Close to a waterfall called Helvetesfallet (‘the Hell fall’). The bridge is about 186 feet tall, with creaky wooden planks with space between, so you could see all the way down. It wasn’t a good place to be if you didn’t like heights.

“We had set up the drums on the middle of the bridge and I was just adjusting the toms when Johan shouted ‘traaaain!’ Of course we thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t. I turned around and heard the train behind the trees. Me and Lea took whatever drum pieces we could get and ran with the train coming behind us. My first thought was to get away from the bridge, the second was that It’s probably gonna hit the parts of the drum kit we couldn’t carry, bass drum included. Fortunately the traindriver saw us and stopped. We had to do a walk of shame to collect the rest of the drums with seniors taking pictures from the train and face an angry train driver. So after the Stand by Me moment we checked the time table and saw that we had three hours before the next train. So we just got on with it.”

Besvärjelsen “All Things Break”
Taken from the EP “Frost”
Originally released as PostWax Year One, Volume 3
Available at besvarjelsen.bandcamp.com/album/frost

On “Frost” — the follow-up to BESVA?RJELSEN’s 2018 debut “Vallmo” — the feeling of being isolated in a cold wilderness in the grip of higher forces is palpable throughout the five tracks, with haunting, enveloping vocals from singer Lea Amling Alazam, outstanding songwriting from guitarists/vocalists Andreas Baier and Staffan Stensland Vinrot, and the forceful rhythm section of Johan Rockner and Erik Bäckwall (both formerly of Dozer).

“Frost” was recorded in the dead of winter in a cabin in the woods of Dalarna county in Sweden, and mastered by Karl Daniel Lidén.

BESVÄRJELSEN is
Andreas Baier – Guitar, vocals
Staffan Stensland Vinrot – Guitar, vocals
Johan Rockner – Bass, vocals
Lea Amling Alazam – Vocals
Erik Bäckwall – Drums

Besvärjelsen, Frost EP (2019)

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Friday Full-Length: Witchcraft, The Alchemist

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Witchcraft, The Alchemist (2007)

 

I never liked Witchcraft‘s The Alchemist. Listening to it now, I can’t help but wonder why the hell not? In the narrative I’d constructed in my head, it was too clean, too much trying to be prog, and it had lost the simple charm of their 2004 self-titled debut (discussed here, albeit briefly) and its 2005 follow-up, Firewood — both records to which I feel some pretty significant fan attachment — and I recall being disappointed in the title-track, thinking it was boring and too long and pretentious in its forced-seeming 14-minute sprawl.

But wow, was I wrong.

I’m not sure the Magnus Pelander-led Swedish classic heavy rockers could ever have put out another album I’d reach for as often as the self-titled, but The Alchemist stands some 12 years later as testament to how prescient the band was in their craft, finding a way forward for retro rock that didn’t betray the vintage aesthetic but allowed for growth in songwriting. They didn’t quite “go prog,” but having recently given Black Sabbath‘s Technical Ecstasy (discussed here) a fair shake, The Alchemist doesn’t feel like an entirely dissimilar vision of creative evolution, whether it’s the referential nods in “Hey Doctor” — which seems not only to allude to Sabbath in its drum fills in the speedier second half, which is a compliment to the work of Fredrik Jansson, but indeed to Witchcraft‘s own prior work as well in its earlier riff — or the saxophone worked into the penultimate “Remembered.” Even the acoustic guitar John Hoyles (later of Spiders and now in Big Kizz as well) brings to “The Alchemist” itself and the flourish of organ from Tom Hakava deep in the mix alongside the bass of Ola Henriksson (now in Troubled Horse) make that song a richer experience in concept and execution alike. I won’t say it’s void of self-indulgence, but neither is it defined by that on an expressive level across its three-part spread. That middle section is gorgeous. I feel like I’ve been missing on enjoying it for over a decade.

Opener “Walk Between the Lines” launches the album with a strong sense of movement, something to sweep the listener into the proceedings with a clarity of strum front and witchcraft the alchemistcenter that even Firewood couldn’t claim in terms of production value, sharper as that record was than the debut. Layers of acoustic and electric intertwine in the solo section, perhaps prefacing the title-track on the album’s other end or at very least sounding cool, and rather than make their way back to the stomp of the song’s early going, they bend strings to twist their way to the song’s finish and instead pick up the thread with “If Crimson was Your Colour,” which was released as a standalone 7″ by Rise Above before The Alchemist came out, and remains one of the catchiest tracks they’ve ever written. “Leva” delves into Swedish-language lyrics for not the first time — recall “Schyssta Lögner” from the first album — and does so atop a creeping blues riff that’s a hook unto itself, while also subtly shifting the mood from the all-go momentum of the opening duo to the more rolling vibe that will continue to proliferate through “Hey Doctor” and “Samaritan Burden,” which brings a turn to gorgeous and folkish tonal wash that fades gently as it moves toward its conclusion and only leaves one wanting more.

That proves to be the perfect setup for “Remembered” to revive the thrust of the initial salvo, which it does while also leaving room for the aforementioned sax — courtesy of Anders Andersson — as well as some mellotron from Hakava, thereby working as well as a transition into “The Alchemist” via the added arrangement elements, broadening listener expectation again in subtle ways. And when they get there, the title-track is consuming in narrative and its patient delivery, with its long, open-feeling midsection, later return, and post-silence epilogue as it makes its way to its 14-minute finish. It wasn’t the first time Witchcraft surpassed the 10-minute mark — that would be Firewood closer “Attention!” — and they’ve done it a few times since, but “The Alchemist” is nonetheless a standout moment amid their work before or after, a complete idea realized at a new level of complexity and presentation.

So what was it that didn’t let me see that at the time? I’ve always been a first-two-records-only Witchcraft fan, and I guess when The Alchemist came out, I was too busy resenting the indie cred they’d amassed to appreciate the sonic progress they were making. It has been my loss, but I’m glad to have taken the opportunity to correct my error. It won’t make up for the 12 years over which I might’ve dug putting it on from time to time, but at least I know going forward that it’s a more than suitable follow-up to the brilliance of those other offerings I’ve so enjoyed for the last decade and a half. Never stop learning.

The Alchemist was Witchcraft‘s last outing through Rise Above and the last to feature Hoyles on guitar. Henriksson would hold out on bass through 2012’s Nuclear Blast debut, Legend (review here), which greatly modernized their sound, and then indeed split with the band as well, leaving Pelander as the remaining founder. In 2016, they issued Nucleus (review here), which built on the steps that Legend had taken, and later that same year, Pelander under his own name released Time (review here), a solo full-length following a 2010 EP that seemed to preface more to come. Not to say it couldn’t happen, but Witchcraft have steadily been performing shows and at festivals — they flew to New York last Fall to play Le Poisson Rouge — and may or may not have new material in the works, which is to say I have no idea what’s going on with them.

Either way, The Alchemist isn’t the departure I’d so long thought it was, turning its back on the rawness of its forebears in Witchcraft‘s discography. It’s an outgrowth of those crucial first accomplishments, and an essential third in what’s been a trilogy all along. It’s not dropping off, it’s soaring.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

By Wednesday morning I was pretty ready to die. The Pecan was out of his mind. He’d had a cold earlier in the week and was getting over it but clearly not back up to 100 percent yet. And ugh. Hitting and biting and mad and not eating and just going from one thing to the next that he knows he’s not supposed to be doing. My laptop, the kitchen cabinets, slamming the fridge door, pulling on the oven — for which we’ve had to get a lock — just one to the next to the next without stopping. It gets so overwhelming. Pulling his mother’s laptop charger out of the wall. Trying to climb up behind the tv. Grabbing burning hot coffee. Climbing on me while I’m on the can. Dude, just bash my brains in and be done with it. Please. Please. I give. Mercy. Just kill me.

It was so bad that it was my 15th wedding anniversary and I told The Patient Mrs. that I found running a stoner rock blog more satisfying than parenting.

I said that shit.

Out loud.

And meant it.

And worse: I feel like I made a convincing case.

It took basically spending two hours at the park with the sandbox to set him right. Yesterday was better to some degree. It would almost have to be. Today he has baby-gymnastics, so I’m hoping that can take it out of him a little bit, let him work off some of whatever residual fuckall remains. We shall see. My severed head, on a pike made by Melissa & Doug.

He’s not yet two.

We were going to start potty training this weekend. No fucking way. I can’t even get the kid to sit down to put shoes on.

So that’s life. Real life.

No new episode of The Obelisk Show today on Gimme Radio. They had some production stuff going on this week and were overwhelmed and asked if I minded if we skipped the episode. Being overwhelmed myself, I said fine. Next week is the Quarterly Review anyhow, so yeah, plenty going on. I’m also flying to Norway for Høstsabbat. And I need to get those Acrimony liner notes finally done this weekend. So yes, I didn’t need to be cutting Gimme voice breaks yesterday afternoon, fun as that is to do.

I needed to sleep.

Which is probably what I should’ve done this morning when the alarm went off as well. Took me about three minutes to get up and flick the on switch for the coffee pot, giving myself a little pep talk in the meantime. “Come on Cocksan, it’s just one post. Get off your ass and make that coffee and write it.” And here we are.

No rest this weekend, no rest next week with the Quarterly Review and the fest after that. I’m also going (I hope) to Acid King on Monday in Brooklyn, so I’ll have a live review of that. And yeah. I don’t know. The whole thing just feels overwhelming and supremely dumb to me at this point, but I keep going. And I guess by the whole thing I mean life. But hey, the new Iguana record is good.

Kaboom.

Thanks for reading. Great and safe weekend. Forum, radio, merch.

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Dead Feathers Premiere “All is Lost” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dead feathers

So what is it? Are we so awash these days in quality heavy psychedelic blues rock that people are to blissed out for me to be hearing about Dead FeathersAll is Lost? The Chicago five-piece released their second album just last month through Ripple Music, and I know sometimes these things take a while to properly catch hold of people and I certainly know their label has a busy schedule of releases, but I feel like for what’s on offer throughout the eight-track LP — 10 if you get the CD/DL — it’s one of those records where I should be rolling my eyes at the Bandcamp-review hyperbole as I scroll through thee social medias, and yet I’m not at all overwhelmed by it. I’ve seen some positive words, to be sure, but where’s the hype machine when you need it? Come on, people. Why on earth would you sleep on this?

Dead Feathers was one of those bands caught up in the whole HeviSike Records debacle, as that UK imprint went AWOL amid sundry allegations of improprieties of various stripes, mostly fiscal, and Ripple can only be considered correct for having snagged them ahead of All is Lost. It’s a record that makes every riff count. Every groove has its place and its purpose. To listen to tracks like “With Me” and “Cordova” early on, the tinges of psychedelia that come through after opener “At the Edge” sets the tone for them speak to influences from Jefferson Airplane to Wovenhand, and the side B wallop of “Smoking Gun” and “Not Ours to Own,” each with a sprawl over seven minutes long, make for a conclusion of noteworthy resonance without ever being divorced from its central intention. An energetic burst in “Horse and Sands” is met by the full-on fuzz of the title-track, and in the slow rolling “Darling Sights” and the digi-format exclusive “Night Child,” Dead Feathers dig into moodier progressions, the latter flanked by organ work in its second half, which a string drone and acoustic plucking in the 1:18 finale “Found Caravan” (another bonus-ish cut) answers back in classic spirit.

They flirt with twang but remain organically classic heavy rock in their guitar and bass tones, and with the absolute powerhouse vocal performance of Marissa Allen front and center in the mix and more than able to carry that same kind of natural vibe, All is Lost is a win front to back. I don’t know what Dead Feathers are planning as regards touring, but they just got back from a two-week stint, and if they were kicking around the idea of doing any kind of run again soon hither or yon, they’ve certainly got a worthy cause to support. Get out there. Tell the people.

You can see the premiere of the video for “All is Lost” below, followed by more from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Dead Feathers, “All is Lost” official video premiere

Dead Feathers “All is Lost” OUT NOW on Ripple Music

Fronted by the extremely talented Marissa Allen, who’s vocals summon the spirit of Inga Rumpf and Linda Hoyle, Dead Feathers are influenced by rock bands of the 60s and 70s and the modern underground psych of today. Fusing a heavy, early 70s Fairports-via-Affinity vibe with a Dead Meadow and Black Mountain-esque appreciation for big riffs, their live shows are filled with a thunderous energy on stage that puts concert goers under their spell. Combining soulful and emotional songwriting with obscene levels of fuzz and reverb, overflowing bass lines and booming drums, Dead Feathers craft a mood with deft levels of artistry and showmanship.

“All is Lost” is accompanied with the surreal visual stylings of Andrew Arcos and Haley Green’s collaborative documentary project, Love Box. With themes of self-obsession and ego death, Arcos and Green devised a video which explores the darkness of narcissism using elaborate miniature dioramas alongside Third Beacon’s electrifying visual effects.

Co-Directors: Andrew Arcos & Haley Green
Producers: Andrew Arcos & Haley Green
Talent: Marissa Allen, Joey Castanon, Rob Rodak, Tim Snyder, Tony Wold
VFX: Third Beacon

DEAD FEATHERS:
Tony Wold – Guitar
Marissa Allen – Vocals
Tim Snyder – Guitar
Rob Rodak – Bass
Joel Castanon – Drums

Dead Feathers on Thee Facebooks

Dead Feathers on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Friday Full-Length: Earthless, Sonic Prayer Jam

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Earthless, Sonic Prayer Jam (2005/2012)

 

You can’t really talk about Earthless without talking about the live experience — about watching Isaiah MitchellMike Eginton and Mario Rubalcaba wail on their songs and ride to the point of consumption what’s as close to genuinely classic heavy rock as anything you’ll ever find outside of 1973 regardless of any vintage posturing other acts might do. Sonic Prayer was their debut album in 2005, and Sonic Prayer Jam was the subsequent live 10″. Both were released by Gravity Records, and the latter was reissued in 2012 as a 54-minute beast they still basically call an EP — and I guess you can do that kind of thing when you’re Earthless and no one thinks twice about “Sonic Prayer Jam Part 1” being nearly 32 minutes long — and though 14 years later it might seem primitive in comparison to the band that Earthless would mature into being, there are more than a few key signifiers in the audio that remain the core of their approach. Mitchell‘s guitar weaves seamlessly between shred and effects-soaked sprawl. Eginton‘s bass provides the grounding element in its crucial repetitions from which the other players explore outer reaches. And Rubalcaba is not only in-pocket and on-swing, but he propels the proceedings outright. Like, kaboom.

It’s kind of funny how, given how much reverence and hyperbole has been tossed Earthless‘ way especially in recent years, you don’t really hear much about their beginnings. There isn’t much hype around the “origin story.” Rubalcaba was in Hot Snakes and Rocket from the CryptMitchell was in Lions of Judah, and Eginton was in a band called Electric Nazarene. Then they decided to form a band and were in Earthless together. Pretty straightforward, but I guess there’s an important narrative happening beneath that as well in the lack of narrative. Think of it this way: the way that story tells it, Earthless just happened. There was no great band meeting about “what are we going to sound like?” or anything like that. They plugged in, jammed, were able to follow where the songs were leading them and decided to stay there. I don’t know how accurate that is, but it certainly suits the righteous sonic spread the three-piece have conjured over the last decade and a half, and the influence they had on a San Diego-based band boom comprising a generation’s worth of players with an affinity for classic heavy rock that, at least in part, is an affinity for Earthless‘ affinity.

As for Sonic Prayer Jam, how you listen to it depends widely on format. If you get the 10″ — still possible on the secondary market — the set recorded at The Casbah earthless sonic prayer jamon Jan. 3, 2004, is edited. If you get the 12″, it’s edited differently. If you get the CD, which is also the 2012 reissue version, “Sonic Prayer Jam” itself is still split into two part, but the first runs the aforementioned 32 minutes and the “Sonic Prayer Jam Part 2” answers back at 16:55 before they close with “Cherry Red” at 5:31. I’m not sure I’m comfortable calling one definitive and the others not, but the more the merrier, really. Especially in hindsight, the raw, echoing, looping effects and exploratory vibe of Sonic Prayer Jam shows how right Earthless were even at that nascent point in their career, and while they weren’t by any means the first heavy band to offer longform jamming, or even the first American band of their generation to do so, there could be no denying the power of their delivery, whether it’s Rubalcaba punishing his snare as “Sonic Prayer Jam Part 1” noisily transitions into the subsequent second portion or the ultra-tight winding direction of “Cherry Red.” A lot of bands kill it right from the start, but Earthless were Earthless already in 2004 and Sonic Prayer Jam proves it. It was just a matter of everyone else figuring it out.

Their material, especially their studio stuff, would become more plotted, but Earthless have remained keenly aware of what they bring to the stage in playing live, and they’ve done well to continue to represent that. Still, in highlighting an earlier moment for the band, Sonic Prayer Jam nonetheless offers more than academic value for the already-converted. Even if one didn’t know the band or what they were about, it’s the kind of thing you put on and someone says, “Who is this?” Rightly so. The whole point of Earthless even in their early going would seem to have been to blow minds. “Sonic Prayer Jam Part 1” finds them so dug into the proceedings that they barely manage to resurface before shifting into the next phase of the jam, and by tossing out a masterful wash of effects amid extended solos, punctuated with a nigh-on-manic sense of purpose in the drums and bass, Earthless put emphasis on the fact that it was the sheer level of their performance more than any grand stylistic statement that was going to distinguish them over the longer term, though admittedly, they’ve been widely influential in terms of style as well, as manifest in the number of other outfits who try to capture even a fraction of the vitality in Sonic Prayer Jam, some succeeding to a degree, but no one ultimately coming close to what Earthless do and did — as Sonic Prayer Jam shows — even in their formative years.

And yes, “Cherry Red” has vocals. Falsetto vocals, at that. It was legitimately a big deal when last year Earthless offered up Black Heaven (review here) and reshuffled their priorities to feature vocals and more straightforward songcraft, but it wasn’t exactly out of nowhere. And sure enough, Black Heaven had a complementary live outing in later 2018’s From the West (review here), in similar fashion to From the Ages (review here) being followed by a couple of limited live releases or 2007’s Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky being met by 2008’s landmark Live at Roadburn (discussed here), a watershed moment for the band and the growth of their international influence. That’s a set that those who were there continue to talk about. I’d imagine it’s much the same for anyone who happened to be at the Casbah and hung around to hear Mitchell wish the crowd a Happy New Year after the band wrapped up “Cherry Red.” Hell, I wasn’t even there and I’m talking about it, so yeah. Happy New Year.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

It’s my wedding anniversary this week. I’ve been married for 15 years and we’ve been together for 22. Asking The Patient Mrs. to marry me was hands down the best decision I ever made. Nothing else comes remotely close.

Up and down week, as most seem to be these days. Anxiety about the paperwork end of acquiring the ancestral homestead. The Patient Mrs. busy with the new job. The Pecan not really understanding where his mom is after she just had the summer off from teaching, and mad about it. He had a good day or two this week, one hard day and one medium day. We’ll see how today goes when he wakes up, I guess, but that’s kind of how it is at this point every day. We’ll see how it goes. I’m just trying to get through, honestly.

Tonight is Brant Bjork and Ecstatic Vision in Teaneck, NJ. Same place Crowbar and Lo-Pan played a bit ago. They hit Brooklyn last night with River Cult and It’s Not Night: It’s Space, and that would’ve been awesome to see, but no way was I going to be able to go to NYC two nights in a row after about three hours of sleep and hope to enjoy myself whatsoever. I don’t know much about whoever is opening the Jersey show, but whatever. I’ll put the baby to bed and then head out, and yes, see how it goes.

Review of that on Monday along with a full-album stream of the new Goatess and the new single from Witch Mountain, which isn’t a premiere but is exciting nonetheless. Maybe a Bison Machine stream on Tuesday and a Ramprasad track premiere, Wednesday, Cycles of the Damned do a bit of the extreme post-metal thing, and I think on Thursday I’m going to do myself a favor and review the Blackwater Holylight record. Friday I’ll put up an interview I did last week with Parker Griggs from Radio Moscow where we talk about his new band El Perro. That was pretty cool.

I don’t know if anyone listens to those or not, but I’ve been having fun posting them, so whatever.

It’s about 20 minutes before 6AM, so I think I’m gonna leave it there and maybe go crash for a minute. I was so dead on my feet by the time I was doing dishes after dinner last night. The Pecan had woken up and The Patient Mrs. had him yelling on the baby monitor. She went upstairs to his room to check on him and put him back down and I was unconscious by the time she got back. With another late night pending for tonight, every minute counts.

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe weekend. Forum, radio, merch.

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