The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jesse Neal of American Dharma

Posted in Questionnaire on May 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Jesse Neal of American Dharma

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jesse Neal of American Dharma

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If the question is within the context of music, I am a musician. To say that I am a guitar player isn’t quite accurate, since I play drums and bass as well. I also sing a little bit. In American Dharma, my role changes depending on the song. We have a pretty loose structure in that way. If one of us comes up with something on any instrument and it gets us grooving, then away we go! As far as how I came into that… I guess it comes from a life time of being captivated by music and wanting to make as much as I could.

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There are a ton of memories to sift through here. It’s pretty to hard to say which is first. Music has always been a big part of my life. There is one defining moment though that inspired me to pick up guitar in the first place. I was maybe 13 or 14 and MTV brought back Headbanger’s Ball. The first video they played was “One” by Metallica. I was captivated from the start, but hearing Kirk’s lead is what really struck me. I can remember thinking after the video was over that I needed to learn how to play that song.

We ordered college papers from the websites before composing our http://www.panaceo.de/assigning-a-patent/. That's why you're on the right track to pick the Describe your best musical memory to date.

That’s a tough one. I’ve been to a lot of shows and listened to innumerable albums, but I’d have to say my favorite musical memory is seeing The Postal Service live at Merriweather Post Pavilion with my wife. Not only did they put on a great performance, but the lightshow was incredible as well. The best part of it all though was seeing my wife (who does not do crowds) come out of her shell and not just experience but be joy and happiness.

I Need Is Online Homework Worth The Cost – Can I Really Get Someone to Write an Original Body of Work for Me? Are you one of the many students in high school or When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

There have been a lot of times in my life where things did not turn out to be how I thought they would. People showed their true colors, systems fell apart, childhood dreams wound up being almost unachievable. So I guess through all of that I learned to not have any solid expectations or beliefs, and to just see and accept things as they are. Don’t hold on to anything too tightly, for you never know when it might go away. Kind of the whole “attachment is suffering” thing.

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I suppose it ultimately leads to being better than you were yesterday. I don’t mean that strictly in terms of skill. It also encompasses song writing, vision, and a reduction of ego.

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That’s something unique to each person. To me, it’s leading a comfortable life with the ones you love. It’s taking care of business but still have enough time and money left over to make memories. If the question is how do I define success as a musician… I’ll let you know once I find it.

Professional Cover Letter reviews - modify the way you do your homework with our approved service Fast and trustworthy writings from industry top company. What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I can’t think of any specific instance where I regretted seeing what was in front of me. I saw my extended family fall apart in my early teens, if that counts. Watching relationships through blood fall away… that’s something.

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An album that goes gold! That would be cool, but in all seriousness I want to make an album that means something to someone other than myself. An album that might inspire some kid to take up playing, or help ground someone in a moment of anger. Maybe an album that helps people realize we are more alike than we are different.

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I think that art (whatever form it may take), is meant to express things that words often fail to. There’s a certain “nowness” to every piece. It shows what the artist was feeling at that specific time. Sometimes, art can transcend a specific experience or thought, and be an expression of something universal that we all feel. It’s something that binds us all.

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The end of Covid. There has been so much anger and fighting since this thing started. Whether you’re for masks or not, we all have to get through this thing together. I guess I just miss when people seemed to get along and enjoy life more than they do now.

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American Dharma, Cosmosis (2020)

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Quarterly Review: Across Tundras, Motorpsycho, Dark Buddha Rising, Vine Weevil, King Chiefs, Battle Hag, Hyde, Faith in Jane, American Dharma, Hypernaut

Posted in Reviews on December 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Just to reiterate, I decided to do this Quarterly Review before making my year-end list because I felt like there was stuff I needed to hear that I hadn’t dug into. Here we are, 70 records later, and that’s still the case. My desktop is somewhat less cluttered than it was when I started out, but there’s still plenty of other albums, EPs, and so on I could and probably should be covering. It’s frustrating and encouraging at the same time, I guess. Fruscouraging. Life’s too short for the international boom of underground creativity.

Anyway, thanks for taking this ride if you did. It is always appreciated.

Quarterly Review #61-70:

Across Tundras, The Last Days of a Silver Rush

Across Tundras The Last Days of a Silver Rush

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Across Tundras on Bandcamp

Eagle Stone Collective on Bandcamp

 

Motorpsycho, The All is One

motorpsycho the all is one

What could possibly be left to say about the brilliance of Trondheim, Norway’s Motorpsycho? One only wishes that The All is One could be blasted into place on a pressed gold vinyl so that any aliens who might encounter it could know that humanity isn’t just all cruelty, plagues and indifference. The prolific heavy prog kingpins’ latest is 84 willfully-unmanageable minutes of graceful and gracious, hyperbole-ready sprawl, tapping into dynamic changes and arrangement depth that is both classic in character and still decidedly forward-thinking. An early rocker “The Same Old Rock (One Must Imagine Sisyphus Happy)” and the shuffling “The Magpie” give way after the opener to the quiet “Delusion (The Reign of Humbug)” and the multi-stage “N.O.X.,” which unfolds in five parts, could easily have been an album on its own, and caps with a frenetic mania that is only off-putting because of how controlled it ultimately is. Then they throw in a couple experimental pieces after that between the nine-minute “Dreams of Fancy” and the mellow-vibing “Like Chrome.” Someday archaeologists will dig up the fossils of this civilization and wonder what gods this sect worshipped. Do they have three more records out yet? Probably.

Motorpsycho website

Stickman Records website

 

Dark Buddha Rising, Mathreyata

Dark Buddha Rising Mathreyata

From out of the weirdo hotbed that is Tampere, Finland, Dark Buddha Rising reemerge from the swirling ether with new lessons in black magique for anyone brave enough to be schooled. Mathreyata follows 2018’s II EP but is the band’s first full-length since 2015’s Inversum (review here), and from the initial cosmically expansive lurch of “Sunyaga” through the synth-laced atmosludge roll of “Nagathma” and the seven-minute build-to-abrasion that is “Uni” and the guess-what-now-that-abrasion-pays-off beginning of 15-minute closer “Mahatgata III,” which, yes, hits into some New Wavy guitar just before exploding just after nine minutes in, the band make a ritual pyre of expectation, genre and what one would commonly think of as psychedelia. Some acts are just on their own level, and while Dark Buddha Rising will always be too extreme for some and not everyone’s going to get it, their growing cult can only continue to be enthralled by what they accomplish here.

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Svart Records website

 

Vine Weevil, Sun in Your Eyes

vine weevil sun in your eyes

Together, brothers Yotam and Itamar Rubinger — guitar/vocals and drums, respectively — comprise London’s Vine Weevil. Issued early in 2020 preceded by a video for “You are the Ocean” (posted here), Sun in Your Eyes is the second album from the brothers, who are also both former members of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, and in the watery title-track and the Beatles-circa-Revolver bounce of “Loose Canon” they bask in a folkish ’60s-style psychedelia, mellotron melodies adding to the classic atmosphere tipped with just an edge of Ween-style weirdness — it’s never so druggy, but that undercurrent is there. “You are the Ocean” hints toward heavy garage, but the acoustic/electric sentimentality of “My Friend” and the patient piano unfurling of “Lord of Flies” ahead of organ-led closer “The Shadow” are more indicative overall of the scope of this engaging, heartfelt and wistful 31-minute offering.

Vine Weevil on Thee Facebooks

Vine Weevil on Bandcamp

 

King Chiefs, Flying into Void

king chiefs flying into void

Since before their coronation — when they were just Chiefs — the greatest strength of San Diego heavy rockers King Chiefs has been their songwriting. They’ve never been an especially flashy band on a technical level, never over the top either direction tempo-wise, but they can write a melody, craft a feel in a three-or-four-minute track and tell any story they want to tell in that time in a way that leaves the listener satisfied. This is not a skill to be overlooked, and though on Flying into Void, the follow-up to 2018’s Blue Sonnet (review here), the album is almost entirely done by guitarist/vocalist Paul ValleJeff Podeszwik adds guitar as well — the energy, spirit and craft that typify King Chiefs‘ work is maintained. Quality heavy built on a foundation of grunge — a ’90s influence acknowledged in the cover art; dig that Super Nintendo — it comes with a full-band feel despite its mostly-solo nature and delivers 37 minutes of absolutely-pretense-free, clearheaded rock and roll. If you can’t get down with that, one seriously doubts that’ll stop King Chiefs anyhow.

King Chiefs on Thee Facebooks

King Chiefs webstore

 

Battle Hag, Celestial Tyrant

battle hag celestial tyrant

How doomed is Battle Hag‘s doom? Well, on Celestial Tyrant, it’s pretty damn doomed. The second long-player from the Sacramento, California-based outfit is comprised of three worth-calling-slabs slabs that run in succession from shortest to longest: “Eleusinian Sacrament” (12:47), “Talus” (13:12) and “Red Giant” (19:15), running a total of 45 minutes. Why yes, it is massive as fuck. The opener brings the first round of lurch and is just a little too filthy to be pure death-doom, despite the rainstorm cued in at its last minute, but “Talus” picks up gradually, hard-hit toms signaling the plod to come with the arrival of the central riff, which shows up sooner or later. Does the timestamp matter as much as the feeling of having your chest caved in? “Talus” hits into a speedier progression as it crosses over its second half, but it’s still raw vocally, and the plod returns at the end — gloriously. At 19 minutes “Red Giant” is also the most dynamic of the three cuts, dropping after its up-front lumber and faster solo section into a quiet stretch before spending the remaining eight minutes devoted to grueling extremity and devolution to low static noise. There’s just enough sludge here to position Battle Hag in a niche between microgenres, and the individuality that results is as weighted as their tones.

Battle Hag on Thee Facebooks

Transylvanian Tapes on Bandcamp

 

Hyde, Hyde

hyde hyde

It might take a few listens to sink in — and hey, it might not — but Parisian trio Hyde are up to some deceptively intricate shenanigans on their self-titled debut LP. On their face, a riff like that of second cut “Black Phillip” or “DWAGB” — on which The Big Lebowski is sampled — aren’t revolutionary, but the atmospheric purpose to which they’re being put is more brooding than the band give themselves credit for. They call it desert-influenced, but languid tempos, gruff vocals coated in echo, spacious guitar and rhythmic largesse all come together to give Hyde‘s Hyde a darker, brooding atmosphere than it might at first seem, and even opener “The Victim” and the penultimate “The Barber of Pitlochry” — the only two songs under five minutes long — manage to dig into this vibe. Of course, the 11-minute closing eponymous track — that is, “Hyde,” by Hyde, on Hyde — goes even further, finding its way into psychedelic meandering after its chugging launch rings out, only to roll heavy in its last push, ending with start-stop thud and a long fade. Worth the effort of engaging on its own level, Hyde‘s first full-length heralds even further growth going forward.

Hyde on Thee Facebooks

Hyde on Bandcamp

 

Faith in Jane, Mother to Earth

Faith in Jane Mother to Earth

Maryland’s best kept secret in heavy rock remain wildly undervalued, but that doesn’t stop power trio Faith in Jane from exploring cosmic existentialism on Mother to Earth even as they likewise broaden the expanse of their grooving, bluesy dynamic. “The Circle” opens in passionate form followed by the crawling launch of “Gone are the Days,” and whether it’s the tempest brought to bear in the instrumental “Weight of a Dream” or the light-stepping jam in the middle of the title-track, the soaring solo from guitarist/vocalist Dan Mize on the subsequent “Nature’s Daughter” or the creeper-chug on “Universal Mind,” the cello guest spot on “Lonesome” and the homage to a party unknown (Chesapeake heavy has had its losses these last few years, to say nothing of anyone’s personal experience) in closer “We’ll Be Missing You,” Mize, bassist Brendan Winston and drummer Alex Llewellyn put on a clinic in vibrancy and showcase the classic-style chemistry that’s made them a treasure of their scene. I still say they need to tour for three years and not look back, but if it’s 56 minutes of new material instead, things could be far worse.

Faith in Jane on Thee Facebooks

Faith in Jane on Bandcamp

 

American Dharma, Cosmosis

American Dharma COSMOSIS

Newcomer four-piece American Dharma want nothing for ambition on their 70-minute debut, Cosmosis, bringing together progressive heavy rock, punk and doom, grunge and hardcore punk, but the Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, outfit are somewhat held back by a rawness of production pulling back from the spaces the songs might otherwise create. A bona fide preach at the outset of “Damaged Coda” is a break early on, but the guitars and bass want low end throughout much of the 14-song proceedings, and the vocals cut through with no problem but are mostly dry even when layered or show the presence of a guest, as on closer “You.” Actually, if you told me the whole thing was recorded live and intended as a live album, I’d believe it, but for a unit who do so well in pulling together elements of different styles in their songwriting and appear to have so much to say, their proggier leanings get lost when they might otherwise be highlighted. Now, it’s a self-released debut coming out during a global pandemic, so there’s context worth remembering, but for as much reach as American Dharma show in their songs, their presentation needs to move into alignment with that.

American Dharma on Thee Facebooks

American Dharma on Bandcamp

 

Hypernaut, Ozymandias

hypernaut ozymandias

Call it a burner, call it a corker, call it whatever you want, I seriously doubt Lima, Peru’s Hypernaut are sticking around to find out how you tag their debut album, Ozymandias. The nine-song/38-minute release pulls from punk with some of its forward-thrusting verses like “(This Is Where I) Draw the Line” or “Cynicism is Self-Harm,” but there’s metal there and in the closing title-cut as well that remains part of the atmosphere no matter how brash it might otherwise get. Spacey melodies, Sabbathian roll on “Multiverse… Battleworld” (“Hole in the Sky” walks by and waves), and a nigh-on-Devo quirk in the rhythm of “Atomic Breath” all bring to mind Iowan outliers Bloodcow, but that’s more likely sonic coincidence than direct influence, and one way or the other, Hypernaut‘s “Ozymandias” sets up a multifaceted push all through its span to its maddening, hypnotic finish, but the real danger of the thing is what this band might do if they continue on this trajectory for a few more records.

Hypernaut on Thee Facebooks

Hypernaut on Bandcamp

 

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Red Wizard, Cosmosis: Universal Symptoms (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 5th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

red wizard cosmosis

[Click play above to stream Red Wizard’s Cosmosis in full. Album is out April 8 on Ripple Music and STB Records.]

San Diego heavy rockers Red Wizard make their full-length debut with Cosmosis, following-up a 2014 self-titled EP that rounded out with a harmonica-laced cover of Black Sabbath‘s “The Wizard.” That in itself should tell you something about the brazen nature of the band, and in particular, their interest in getting to the roots of what sonic heft is all about.

With the burly dudery of Travis Baucum‘s vocals out front, dual guitars in Miles Von Ricketson (lead) and Casey Lamontagne (rhythm), the bass of David Wilburn and Shane Kepler‘s drumming, they would seem to be arriving at their first album with clearheaded intent — but for all the booze — and what seems like it’s going to be a simple affair on opening track “Tides of War” becomes something much more stylistically nuanced as the record plays out its seven-track/37-minute course, remaining defined in no small part by its lack of pretense as it goes, whether that’s manifest in the proto-metallic three-parter “The Red Wizard Suite,” which closes, or in the more doomed “The Temples of Tinnitus,” which hits earlier. Rough tonal edges give a metal vibe, but the groove is heavy and Baucum‘s voice, though high in the mix here and there, as on “Tides of War,” adds a bluesy undertone that finds fitting accompaniment from his harmonica in the more swinging “Blinded,” which soon enough gives way to the 10-minute title-track; another on the growing list of vibes Red Wizard cast throughout their debut’s span.

That is, in fact, the album’s primary impression: Red Wizard‘s refusal to commit to a single-mindedness of sound where so many of their West Coast contemporaries find themselves leaning to one side of the “heavy” umbrella or another, whether that’s doom, stoner rock, psychedelia, prog, whatever it might be. The five-piece play multiple facets off each other in different tracks, and whether this is born of an exploratory process — i.e., if they’re finding their sound — or if ultimately that sense of variety will define their work over the longer term, it doesn’t really matter at this point, since what Cosmosis demonstrates aside from this breadth is that Red Wizard have the boldness to cover this ground while also uniting the material through atmosphere and songcraft.

red wizard

To wit, bass opens “Tides of War,” which then unfolds a rolling groove and catchy hook leading the listener into the album, but there’s a hint of something harder as well, and that will be the case as well with the biker rock revenge fantasy of “The Red Wizard Suite Part III” at the end of the tracklisting. In between, Red Wizard don’t think twice about the jumps in sound that the switch to a slower, drawling doom in “The Temples of Tinnitus” — near Candlemassian in its traditionalism — and the subsequent swap to start-stop swing of “Blinded” represent, let alone the psychedelic jamming that emerges in “Cosmosis” itself. They present the material simply, and on first listen, one might even mistake Cosmosis for a simple work, but while the bulk of its material is straightforward, the key to understanding it as a whole is in how songs play off each other stylistically, and that’s bound to come through clearer on repeat visits.

Further, the fluidness of the title-track, which finds Baucum echoing out a series of “heys” as Kepler‘s drums lead the way into the psychedelic jam, underscores the ease that the band feels on what, it’s important to remember, is still their first outing. Von Ricketson‘s guitar spaces out patiently in “Cosmosis” as Kepler and Lamontagne and Wilburn hold the tension in a classically heavy spirit, the band gradually building and making their way back toward a chorus, where the vocals are waiting to tie the piece together. From there, the move into “The Red Wizard Suite Part I,” the shorter instrumental “The Red Wizard Suite Part II” and “The Red Wizard Suite Part III” is undertaken with no more fanfare than any prior, the first part of the suite introducing itself with quietly progressive strums that just seem to be waiting for a flute to join in, and launching into a play between doomly roll and more forward-propelled rock.

Baucum shifting momentarily into a growl in the midsection before the song closes out with a big finish, leading to the Motörhead-style chug of “The Red Wizard Suite Part II,” marked out by its dueling leads, and finally, the “Symptom of the Universe”-style riffing of “The Red Wizard Suite Part III,” which mirrors the catchiness of “Tides of War” and offers an efficient if rough finish to both the suite and the record as a whole, the track kind of falling apart as it crashes out. Somehow, despite the ground Red Wizard cover on Cosmosis, that ending makes sense, as though at the end of a set, they finally decided to let the wheels come flying off. Fair enough. The brash nature of Cosmisis demands that kind of thing, and sets a high standard for the five-piece going forward, with multiple avenues of progression to potentially follow through, each of which hold promise in themselves in addition to how they might combine in Red Wizard‘s sound.

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Ripple Music

STB Records

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Red Wizard to Release Cosmosis April 8; “Tides of War” Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

red wizard

STB Records has had this one listed for a minute or so, but it’s good to get some confirmation from the PR wire for the release of San Diego heavy rockers Red Wizard‘s debut album, Cosmosis. It’ll be out on Ripple Music on CD and STB vinyl April 8, and for a group making their debut, that’s some pretty significant backing to attain. The track “Tides of War” is streaming now and finds them deep into thick grooves and a burled-out feel, but the cover art for the record, which you can see below, seems to herald some spacier fare, so we’ll have to wait to hear how much “Tides of War” represents the offering as a whole. The band also issued a self-titled demo/EP in 2014 that featured a particularly dudely take on Black Sabbath‘s “The Wizard.”

You want information? The PR wire’s got some. No charge:

red wizard cosmosis

RED WIZARD: San Diego stoner rockers to release debut album through Ripple Music/STB Records | Stream and share new single ‘Tides Of War’

Cosmosis by Red Wizard is released worldwide through Ripple Music/STB Records on 8th April 2016

With amps turned to eleven and feet flat out on vintage fuzz pedals, San Diegan stoners Red Wizard know exactly how to convert raw hertz into high voltage rock and roll.

Newly signed to Ripple Music, their debut album Cosmosis is an exercise in pure hard rock indulgence. As teens plucked from another era – outta time and outta mind – their roughly hewn approach to proto-metal is shaped as much by prevailing Pacific Coast winds as it is their parents’ record collections.

Steeped in the pre-1978 sounds synonymous with Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, Red Wizard have developed a sizable and almost effortless reputation in the Californian underground metal community as a unique and energetic live act. Helped in no small part by last year’s release of their self-titled/STB Records-approved EP Red Wizard, across seven new tracks, easily their heaviest collection to date, Cosmosis explores the depths and majesty of ’70s metal and contemporary stoner rock. Placing huge riffs, blazing vocals and bone shaking rhythms amid a wide expanse of progressive sonic assaults.

Red Wizard:
Travis Baucum – Vocals/Harmonica
David Wilburn – Lead Guitar
Casey Lamontagne – Bass
Miles Von Ricketson – Guitar
Shane Kepler – Drum

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Red Wizard, “Tides of War”

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