Visual Evidence: 10 Album Covers that Kicked Ass in 2013

Posted in Visual Evidence on December 31st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

First thing, let me give the immediate and familiar disclaimer: This isn’t everything. If I wanted to call this list “The ONLY 10 Album Covers that Kicked Ass in 2013,” I would. I didn’t do that, because there were way more than 10 covers that resonated when I saw them this year. The idea here is just to check out a few artists’ work that really stuck out as memorable throughout the year and really fit with the music it was complementing and representing.

As always, you can click the images below to enlarge them for a more detailed look.

The list runs alphabetically by band. Thanks in advance for reading:

Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire


Cover by Professional Resume For Graduate School Admission - Composing a custom essay means go through lots of stages Get started with essay writing and write the best term paper ever Opt Nick Keller. Artist website here.

Like best college admission essays harvard Brightstar Homework Helps homework help for biology dissertation university of california los angeles Nick Keller‘s cover for New Zealand heavy plunderers I've been Write My Lab Report For Me for me when I've been busy preparing to my final weeks. EssayRoo writer id 55472 managed to complete a very urgent assignment on Logistics and then another one on Finance. I liked the way it was written even though I had to make minor edits to make it look more like mine. Beastwars‘ 2011 self-titled debut (review here), the darker, moodier oil and canvas piece that became the front of Who can I Chalmers Master Thesis for me? Where can I buy an essay? Now hiring- get paid to write academic papers! Write custom essays for pay! The internet Blood Becomes Fire Essay Writing Service England - Instead of concerning about research paper writing get the needed assistance here Proposals, essays and academic (review here) created a sense of something truly massive and otherworldly. A huge skull with sci-fi themes and barren landscape brought to it foreboding memento mori that seemed to suggest even land can die. It was an excellent match for the brooding tension in the album itself.

Blaak Heat Shujaa,The Edge of an Era


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The level of detail in Introducing The Number One Assignment Help Aus Service. At eWritingService.com, we pride ourselves in offering the highest quality research paper Arrache-toi un oeil‘s cover for click here Online Programming Homework Help DO MY COMPUTER SCIENCE HOMEWORK INTRODUCTION When that language is one that drives a Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s full-length Where to Buy Essays Online: Fresh Guide for Students Is http://kubsafety.ru/?how-to-write-good-argumentative-essays? Many students have that question. It's clear that when they are ready to Tee Pee Records debut, Thesis And Dissertation Zamorano - Entrust your assignments to the most talented writers. Quality and affordable essay to ease your education Essays & researches The Edge of an Era 2017 © http://www.plurmac.mx/essay-online-correction/. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service. 2017 © Freelance Writing Help. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service (review here), would probably be enough for it to make this list anyway, but the Belgium-based art duo seemed thematically to bring out the swirl, chaos and underlying order within the Los Angeles trio’s desert psychedelia. Blue was for the vinyl edition, brown for the CD digipak (both were revealed here), but in either format it was a reminder of how much visual art can add to a musical medium.

Black Pyramid, Adversarial


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I look at the http://bursabakaracicek.com/?phd-thesis-friction-stir-welding for Me: Why Does This Subject Matter? “I am ready to pay for doing my physics homework for me!” Those are the words of the Eli Wood cover for write and essay online see this here how do i get my seat assignment on southwest write essay for me online Black Pyramid‘s Our PhD http://masheroa.com/custom-writing-in-sand/ can help you complete your work fast and according to all the requirements. Get a custom research proposal for PhD. Adversarial (review here) as representing the task before the band in putting out their third LP. Released by Hydro-Phonic, the album found Black Pyramid coming head to head with both their audience’s expectations of what they were in their original lineup and their own will to move past that and become something else. If there was a second panel to the cover, it would show the arrow-shot warrior standing next to the severed head of the demon he slayed. Easily one of my favorite covers of the year. The scale of it begged for a larger format even than vinyl could provide.

Ice Dragon, Born a Heavy Morning


Cover by Samantha Allen. Artist website here.

It was such a weird record, with the interludes and the bizarre twists, that Samantha Allen‘s cover piece for Ice Dragon‘s Born a Heavy Morning (review here) almost couldn’t help but encompass it. The direct, but slightly off-center stare of the owl immediately catches the eye, but we see the titular morning sunshine as well, the human hand with distinct palm lines, illuminati eye and other symbols — are the planets? Bubbles? I don’t know, but since Born a Heavy Morning was such an engrossing listening experience, to have the visual side follow suit made it all the richer.

Kings Destroy, A Time of Hunting


Cover by Aidrian O’Connor.

In Magyar mythology, the bird-god Turul is perched atop the tree of life and is a symbol of power. With its theme in geometry, Aidrian O’Connor‘s cover piece for Kings Destroy‘s A Time of Hunting — which was originally titled Turul — gave a glimpse at some of that strength, positioning the viewer as prey below a creature and sky that seem almost impossible to parse. I felt the same way the first time I put on the finished version of the Brooklyn outfit’s second offering, unspeakably complex and brazenly genre-defiant as it was.

Larman Clamor, Alligator Heart


Cover by Alexander von Wieding. Artist website here.

Alexander von Wieding deserves multiple mentions for his 2013 covers for Black Thai and Small Stone labelmates Supermachine, but he always seems to save the best for his own project, Larman Clamor. The one-man-band’s third LP, Alligator Heart (review here), was a stomper for sure, but in his visual art for it, von Wieding brilliantly encapsulated the terrestrial elements (the human and reptile) as well as the unknowable spheres (rippling water, sun-baked sky) that the songs portrayed in their swampadelic blues fashion. It was one to stare at.

Monster Magnet, Last Patrol


Cover by John Sumrow. Artist website here.

Similar I guess to the Beastwars cover in its looming feel and to the Black Pyramid for its scale, John Sumrow‘s art for Monster Magnet‘s Last Patrol (review here) mirrored the space-rocking stylistic turn the legendary New Jersey band made in their sound, taking their iconic Bullgod mascot and giving it a cosmic presence, put to scale with the rocketship on the right side. It stares out mean from the swirl and regards the ship with no less a watchful eye than Dave Wyndorf‘s lyrics seem to have on society as a whole.

Red Fang, Whales and Leeches


Cover by Orion Landau. Artist website here.

There’s a mania to Orion Landau’s cover for Red Fang‘s third album, Whales and Leeches, and while the songs that comprise the record are more clearly structured, the collage itself, the face it makes when viewed from a distance, and the (from what I’m told is brilliant) cut-out work in the physical pressing of the album, all conspired to make one of 2013’s most striking visuals. As the in-house artist for Relapse, Landau is no stranger to landmark pieces, but this was a different level of accomplishment entirely.

Sandrider, Godhead


Cover by Jesse Roberts. Band Facebook here.

Fuck. Look at this fucking thing! Galaxy spiral, vagina-dentata, creepy multi-pupil eyes and a background that seems to push the eye to the middle with no hope of escape even as blues and oranges collide. Wow. Sandrider bassist Jesse Roberts (see also The Ruby Doe) artwork for Godhead (review here) is the only cover on this list done by a member of the band in question, and though I’m sure there are many awesome examples out there, I don’t know if any can top this kind of nightmarishness. Unreal. The sheer imagination of it.

Summoner, Atlantian


Cover by Alyssa Maucere. Artist website here.

When I put together a similar list last year, it had Summoner‘s first album under the moniker, Phoenix, on it, and with their second, they went more melodic, more progressive, and showed that heaviness was about atmosphere as much as tone, and that it was a thing to be moved around rather than leaned on. The Alyssa Maucere art, dark but deceptively colorful, rested comfortably alongside the songs, with a deeply personal feel and unflinchingly forward gaze, somewhat understated on the black background, but justifying the portrayal of depth.

As I said above, there’s a lot of stuff I could’ve easily included on this list, from The Flying Eyes to Sasquatch to Black Thai to Lumbar, Samsara Blues Experiment, Goatess, At Devil Dirt and others. Hopefully though, this gives a sampling of some people who are doing cool work in an under-represented aspect of underground creativity.

If I left anything out or there was a cover that really stuck with you that I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Live Review: Blaak Heat Shujaa and Mirror Queen in Massachusetts, 11.14.13

Posted in Reviews on November 19th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Since the time change, it’s been getting dark at around 5PM, which means that as I made my way out west on the Masspike to Florence to see Blaak Heat Shujaa and Mirror Queen at the pleasantly-named JJ’s Tavern, it was too dark to enjoy the late-fall scenery. Too bad, as that’s some good forest. Anyone interested in demographic study might do well to take a look at how hardcore did so well up here in the ’90s instead of black metal. I’d suspect it has to do with socioeconomic factors — a hardcore 7″ is cheap and Norwegian LPs would’ve meant paying import prices; with its roots in zealotry, Massachusetts maintains a healthy love of its working class foundations — but from the bare branches to the legacy of witch burnings, it seems like someone would’ve put some corpsepaint on by now and given the misty Pacific Northwest a run for its money. So it goes.

I had time to consider these things on the drive to Florence (my grandmother’s name) and JJ’s Tavern (my name), which was a solid two hours. Both bands would be in Providence, Rhode Island, the next night, which is only half as far away, but I had other obligations and didn’t want to miss Blaak Heat Shujaa, who were making an overdue first appearance on the Eastern Seaboard in support of their sophomore full-length and Tee Pee long-play debut, The Edge of an Era (review here). The young desert rock trio from Los Angeles via Paris were partnered up for the excursion with NYC labelmates Mirror Queen, whose own style of grooving has become familiar at shows this year with The Atomic Bitchwax and Truckfighters (see here and here). There were four bands on the bill, but by the time I arrived at JJ’s, local radio rockers Odds of Eden were on as the second of four, which meant that Mirror Queen weren’t far behind.

Drummer Jeremy O’Brien was local to the area, so there was a familial contingent present in the short-ceilinged upstairs space — almost a loft, with a bar in another little room to the side and pool tables in back — as Mirror Queen got going. Lead guitarist Phi Moon and bassist James Corallo had played Brooklyn two weekends prior as members of Polygamyst, who opened for Orange Goblin at the St. Vitus bar (review here), and it hadn’t been that long anyway since I last caught Mirror Queen, so although I felt like I knew what I was getting, that didn’t make their set any less enjoyable, whether it was the Cream-y riffing of “Scaffold of the Skies” or the catchy and insistent chorus of “Vagabondage.” Guitarist/vocalist Kenny Sehgal set up to the far right-side of the stage, and Moon and Corallo had plenty of room to rock out their parts in classic fashion.

And there was a twist! I’d anticipated they’d close with the Captain Beyond cover “Mesmerization Eclipse,” as they have the last couple times I’ve seen them, but no dice. Instead, they gave a take on Iron Maiden‘s “Phantom of the Opera” for their finishing move, and it only emphasized for me how tight their jams are at this point. Sehgal and O’Brien have been playing together going back to their days as Aytobach Kreisor, whose self-titled debut was issued on Rubric Records in 2002, but with Moon‘s swaggering solos and the sheer enjoyment for playing that Corallo brings to his work on bass, Mirror Queen seem all the more solid at the base of their sonic fluidity. I’ve yet to catch a set and be bummed out, and though I’d been looking forward to a little Captain Beyond, the Maiden worked just fine in its place.

Between reviews, video premieres, track premieres, interviews, news posts and whatever else I can’t think of at the moment (it’s all here), I’ve said an awful lot about Blaak Heat Shujaa the last couple years, and I was greatly anticipating seeing them play live. The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier, bassist Antoine Morel-Vulliez and drummer Mike Amster were surprisingly loud once they got going. Considerable volume. The effect was to make their sound even fuller than on the record, and give Bellier a task in letting his effects-laden vocals cut through the tones surrounding. Those tones, it’s worth emphasizing, were gorgeous. As much of a role as Morel-Vulliez‘s bass plays in setting the mood on The Edge of an Era, live it is all the more a foundational element, and Amster‘s drumming has a vitality behind it that a studio album would be hard-pressed to convey. Everything I’ve enjoyed about the band since I caught wind of their 2010 self-titled debut (review here) was only more prevalent in their stage presentation.

That’s especially true of some of their more subdued stretches. With Amster keeping a steady intensity to his tom runs even as Morel-Vulliez and Bellier set about the purposefully meandering jams of the “The Beast” two-parter which Bellier announced as “the first side of our new record,” smirking in full awareness of just how awesome that sounds to say, there was a sense of build that came across as hypnotic in its repetitions and still consciously focused on movement forward. This made the payoff in that progression all the more of one. It was gratifying to see, not just because I enjoyed the album, but because what the album seemed to be hinting that the band could do was right there on stage at full blast. Their jamming was jazz-tight and the surf rock in Bellier‘s guitar acknowledged the roots of the desert that Blaak Heat Shujaa has adopted as their home. Whether it was “Society of Barricades” or the closing sprawl of “Land of the Freaks, Home of the Brave,” I was really, really glad to have made the trip to see them play.

My new appreciation for their songs in tow, I split out of JJ’s Tavern when Blaak Heat Shujaa were done and made my way back east along the same route I’d taken west to get there. At around 1:40AM, still an hour out, I got pulled over doing 81 in a 65 and got a ticket. 16 miles over the limit at $10 a mile had me cursing the rest of the way, but traffic violations come and go, and nights like this one leave longer impressions than dents in a checking account.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Blaak Heat Shujaa Get a Text from the Beast in Video for “The Obscurantist Fiend”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 16th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

You’ll probably find your own favorite moment in Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s new video for the 11-minute “The Obscurantist Fiend (The Beast Pt. I).” Maybe it’s when the band put on creepy animal masks and stalk through the woods. Or maybe it’s seeing them talking on office phones in the cosmic shame of a corporate-dayjob. All valid choices, but for me, it’s gotta be the point where, about halfway through, our be-suited protagonist calls 9-1-1 and gets a text back from “The Beast” and all it says is “You Are Fucked.” Brilliant. It’s the best use of a cellphone in a video since Infernal Overdrive‘s “Duel,” which was a while ago at this point.

“The Obscurantist Fiend (The Beast Pt. I)” comes from Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s sophomore outing and full-length Tee Pee Records debut, The Edge of an Era (review here), and the new video was directed by Andrew Baxter and Cole Jenkins, who previously helmed the documentary web-series aired here about the recording of the album with Scott Reeder, as well as the clip for “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” from the preceding The Storm Generation EP (review here). Boasting a couple different locales — first they’re in the desert, then they’re in the woods, then they’re in front of the Los Angeles skyline — and some choice free-your-mind desert rock preaching, the clip is a winner all around.

Blaak Heat Shujaa are coming east for a run of dates in support of The Edge of an Era, and you can find them swiped from the prior announcement under the video below. Enjoy:

Blaak Heat Shujaa, “The Obscurantist Fiend (The Beast Pt. I)” official video

Blaak Heat Shujaa Northeast Tour:
11/08 Glasslands, Brooklyn NY
11/09 Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia PA
11/10 The Pinch, Washington DC
11/11 Mojo Main, Newark DE
11/12 Brillobox, Pittsburgh PA
11/13 CFC, Montréal QC, Canada
11/14 JJ’s Tavern, Florence MA
11/15 AS220, Providence RI
11/16 Cake Shop, New York NY

www.blaakheatshujaa.com
www.facebook.com/blakheatshujaa
www.teepeerecords.com

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Blaak Heat Shujaa Announce East Coast Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I’m stoked I’ll get to see Blaak Heat Shujaa. I guess that’s what it really comes down to as regards the announcement below that the L.A.-based desert rock trio are hitting the East Coast for the first time. Yeah, it’s cool that they’re continuing to support The Edge of an Era (review here), their 2013 full-length debut on Tee Pee Records, and even cooler that they’re doing it in front of new audiences, but basically, they’re a band I’ve dug for a while now and I’m glad I’ll have the chance to watch them playing their songs live. I get jaded pretty easily, so it’s nice to just be stoked for a show every now and again.

I know some of these gigs are with Mirror Queen and that Queen Elephantine are playing the Rhode Island show, so if you in any of the areas where the tour is rolling through, make sure you check out who else is on the bill. The band sent the info for the tour down the PR wire, and I decided to toss in “Pelham Blue” from The Edge of an Era, just thankful to have an excuse to revisit Mario Lalli‘s guest spot.

Here goes:

We are happy to announce that heavy psychedelic trio Blaak Heat Shujaa (Los Angeles, CA) will play nine US East Coast shows this November.

After their triumphant return from a month long European tour that saw the band perform in 14 different countries alongside label-mates Spindrift, Blaak Heat Shujaa will set on their first US East Coast tour to further support their sophomore release, The Edge Of An Era (out on Tee Pee Records).

11/08 Glasslands, Brooklyn NY
11/09 Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia PA
11/10 The Pinch, Washington DC
11/11 Mojo Main, Newark DE
11/12 Brillobox, Pittsburgh PA
11/13 CFC, Montréal QC, Canada
11/14 JJ’s Tavern, Florence MA
11/15 AS220, Providence RI
11/16 Cake Shop, New York NY

www.blaakheatshujaa.com
www.facebook.com/blakheatshujaa
www.teepeerecords.com

Blaak Heat Shujaa, “Pelham Blue” (feat. Mario Lalli) from The Edge of an Era (2013)

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Blaak Heat Shujaa Interview with Thomas Bellier: At the Edge of the Storm

Posted in Features on August 8th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Begun in Paris, moved first to New York and then to Los Angeles and signed to Tee Pee Records for the release of their second album, which wound up becoming an album and an EP, the story of Blaak Heat Shujaa thus far is not wanting for twists and turns. In 2010, though they were then based in France,  the trio traveled to CA to record their self-titled debut (review here) with Scott Reeder (yes, that Scott Reeder). By the time they returned to Reeder‘s The Sanctuary studio to put to tape what would become their late-2012 EP, The Storm Generation (review here) and their first full-length for Tee Pee, 2013’s The Edge of An Era (review here), the band would be residents, touring their now-native West Coast alongside the likes of Yawning Man and Fatso Jetson, and working live and in the studio with gonzo poet Ron Whitehead on material greatly expanded in scope and sound from that which had come before.

The creative leaps the young band have made over the last couple years are no less dramatic than the geographical changes that brought them to L.A. With a sound set to melding desert rock and European heavy psych influences captured live in its crucial moment by Reeder, Blaak Heat Shujaa show with The Edge of an Era that they not only understand what they want to be as a band, but that they are in full command of actually becoming that thing. The trio of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier, bassist Antoine Morel-Vulliez and drummer Mike Amster are able to create a swirling hook or a memorable jam seemingly at their whim, and as a result, songs like “Shadows (The Beast Pt. II)” and “Society of Barricades” leave a lasting impression with their chaos and with the open-spaced desert ambience the band brings to them. They are strikingly patient, and even in breaking up the sessions into two releases, they show a maturity of approach that many who’ve been around much longer simply don’t have.

When I spoke to Bellier, he and the band were fresh off a long European tour alongside Morricone-style rockers Spindrift, and he was in France staying with family, waiting to hitch a ride with his former bandmates in Mirror Queen as they toured with The Atomic Bitchwax and Earthless last month. In the interview that follows, he discusses how that tour went, actually playing with Spindrift, making The Edge of an Era and The Storm Generation with Reeder and bringing in Fatso Jetson‘s Mario Lalli for the standout track “Pelham Blue,” the possibility of US touring with Blaak Heat Shujaa, side-projects and much more.

You’ll find the complete Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.

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Spindrift and Blaak Heat Shujaa Announce European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Scholars in the ways of Morricone, L.A. psych rockers Spindrift have announced a month-long run of shows through Europe to herald the arrival of their new movie and album, Ghost of the West. To support, they’re bringing along Blaak Heat Shujaa, who continue to make waves with their full-length Tee Pee debut, The Edge of an Era (review here). If you’re fortunate enough to be somewhere these shows are happening, expect a lot of airy guitars and vivid atmospherics. Trip on.

Here’s the info off the PR wire:

SPINDRIFT & BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA “Ghost Of The West” EU Tour 2013

Cinematic spaghetti western favorites SPINDRIFT will embark on a month-long European tour this June/July with psychedelic rock’s rising force BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA. For their first EU headlining tour and third EU tour overall, SPINDRIFT will perform a set of titles from their new album and film “Ghost of the West” which will be followed by their celebrated spaghetti classics. Scenes from the movie will be projected during the shows, and pre-sale copies of “Ghost Of The West” will be available for purchase. “Ghost of the West” documents the band traveling across the far reaches of the Western US, performing old western traditional tunes in Ghost Towns, deserts, and places of historic Western lore. Sharing the bill with them are “heavy mental” rockers BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA, who triumphantly return to Europe after the release of the critically acclaimed album “The Edge Of An Era” (out April 9, 2013 on TeePee Records).

June 05. Sinister Noise Club – Rome, ITALY
June 07. Fordongianus – Oristano, ITALY
June 08. Secret Show – Location TBA, ITALY
June 10. United Club – Torino, ITALY
June 11. L’Usine – Geneva, SWITZERLAND
June 12. Dachstock – Bern, SWITZERLAND
June 14. Le Bukowski – San Sebastian, SPAIN
June 15. Ego Live – Alcala de Henares, SPAIN
June 16. Taberna Belfast – Santa Maria Del Paramo, SPAIN
June 17. Estudio 27 – Burgos, SPAIN
June 18. Le Saint Des Seins – Toulouse, FRANCE
June 19. Les Combustibles – Paris, FRANCE
June 20. L’EntrepĂ´t – Arlon, BELGIUM
June 21. Paard Van Troje – The Hague, NETHERLANDS
June 22. De Bastille – Schoonhoven, NETHERLANDS
June 23. Bassy Cowboy Club – Berlin, GERMANY
June 25. Revolver – Oslo, NORWAY
June 26. Kafe De Luxe – Växjö, SWEDEN
June 27. KB18 – Copenhagen, DENMARK
June 28. Black Night – Jena, GERMANY
June 30. A38 – Budapest, HUNGARY
July 02. Club Gromka – Ljubljana, SLOVENIA
July 03. Sidro Club – Savignano Sul Rubicone, ITALY

Spindrift, Ghost of the West Trailer

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Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era: Don’t Forget to Breathe

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

Since the release of their 2010 self-titled debut, Blaak Heat Shujaa have moved from Paris to Los Angeles — with a stop in New York City as well for a time — have honed their desert rocking chops on tours with Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man, have signed with Tee Pee Records, completed a documentary series about their recording sessions with the venerable Scott Reeder and have taken those sessions and split them into two releases: the late-2012 The Storm Generation EP and their sophomore full-length, The Edge of an Era — shooting videos and playing gigs all the while as well. With that much going on, it’s not much of a surprise that The Edge of an Era is a different beast than was the self-titled, but what is striking about the album is how cohesive it is. On first listen, it makes sense as to why the trio — guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier, bassist Antoine Morel-Vulliez and drummer Mike Amster — divided the output from the Reeder sessions. The Edge of an Era focuses is on a singular atmosphere that’s served well by its six component tracks; the material on The Storm Generation (review here) wasn’t lacking for quality, it just didn’t fit. And where the band probably could’ve forced the issue and included most of those songs here — a move that might’ve put the album’s runtime more in line with the 63-minute self-titled (review here) instead of the vinyl-friendly 41:27 the finished product clocks — The Edge of an Era is unquestionably a stronger whole for the structure of its parts, running social/political lyrical themes through organic tones with a marked flow from piece to piece that nonetheless shows development in the experimental side that showed itself on the prior outing. Fatso Jetson‘s Mario Lalli donates vocals and lyrics to the penultimate “Pelham Blue,” making that track an automatic standout and highlighting just how much influence Blaak Heat Shujaa has culled from the desert in which it now rests its collective head, and poet/tourmate Ron Whitehead, who contributed to The Storm Generation as well, launches the album with “Closing Time, Last Exit,” a rising-toward-clarity free-association spoken word in which gonzo, Jesus, Buddha, Hunter S. Thompson and other mythological figureheads are namechecked before we arrive at the starting point just under a minute later: “America is an illusion.”

A fun bit of knowledge to drop, rife with Baby Boomer shock value and wake-you-up-to-challenge-what-exactly exclamation (it seems a fruitless endeavor to rag on the gonzo types; that cat’s been out of the bag since well before I came along to call it self-indulgent), but more importantly, it sets up a good amount of the perspective from which The Edge of an Era is executed. The point of view, like the band, is young, but coherent, and met with fuzz not driven so much by a heavy psych wash of effects in Bellier‘s guitar, but by a dry-sand clarity that finds root in Morel-Vulliez‘s basslines while Amster‘s drumming holds the songs together allowing the other two players to wander over the course of longer jams like that emerging from “The Obscurantist Fiend (The Beast Pt. I),” the initial rush of which takes hold immediately following Whitehead‘s last pronouncement. Time and again throughout the record, Blaak Heat Shujaa prove adept at balancing stillness with movement instrumentally — Bellier‘s post-Cisneros vocal approach is suited to either, frankly, though in the faster parts he seems more inclined to let the guitar do the talking — and that begins with “The Obscurantist Fiend (The Beast Pt. I)” as a slowdown brings hypnotic repeating of a start-stop progression soon to serve as the foundation not just for Bellier’s verse, but the long instrumental stretch that follows. Amster and Morel-Vulliez make it work, the former with a kind of descending progression that winds up on the crash with each cycle as the latter works to gradually expand the base from which the guitars take flight. It is one of the record’s most melodically satisfying instrumental stretches that ensues, rising and cascading in tempo with a solo taking hold before arriving at starts and stops almost frenetic in their tension thanks to Amster‘s fills, double-kick and so on. At seven minutes, they launch into the next stage, bringing the groove to a head as Bellier and Morel-Vulliez align to ignite the melodic apex before sleepily jamming the way out of the song and directly into “Shadows (The Beast Pt. II)” via a sweet bassline worthy of the quieter moments of any Brant Bjork record you might want to name, the actual progression keeping the same starts and stops from the prior cut, but changing the context to something altogether more comforting.

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Blaak Heat Shujaa Announce More California Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

A couple weeks ago, I plugged a weekender starting April 17 in California with The Freeks, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and Blaak Heat Shujaa. Turns out that’s only part of the story, as Blaak Heat Shujaa are hitting the road for another stretch a few days after that one ends, the two sets of shows comprising a West Coast tour in support of their new album and full-length Tee Pee Records debut, The Edge of an Era.

That album is out April 9. Here are the dates:

Blaak Heat Shujaa on Tour

04.17 The Slidebar – Fullerton, CA
04.18 Level 2 Bar – Cathedral City, CA
04.19 The Tin Can – San Diego, CA
04.20 Favorites – Las Vegas, NV
04.21 The Satellite – Los Angeles, CA
04.25 Luigi’s Fungarden – Sacramento, CA
04.26 Whiskey Dick’s – South Lake Tahoe, CA
04.27 Bender’s Bar & Grill – San Francisco, CA
04.28 The Night Light – Oakland, CA
04.29 The Blue Lagoon – Santa Cruz, CA

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