Temptress Announce Massive Fall Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Damn, Temptress. That’s quite a tour you’ve got there. The Dallas three-piece released their See album earlier this year, and I’ll tell you what I see, I see a band making a statement. I’ve written about them a few times over the last couple years but apparently whiffed on the record — there’s a good reason I never claim to be anything but terrible at this — but can’t help but think of the band in a different way after encountering a list of dates like this. And more, not only is this a month-plus on the road for the band, but it would seem to have been independently booked as well. It’s just a different scale of work put in than one usually sees, especially since the pandemic. Much, much respect, for what that’s worth.

They’ve got a teaser up for the run, and I’ve put the Bandcamp stream of See down there as well, not even for you — you’ve already heard it, I know — but for myself as a reminder. I’m sorry, but when somebody believes enough in what they do to put together a tour like this to support it, that’s probably something I want to hear. Never too late, whatever the internet’s two-week album hype cycles say.

From the PR wire:

Temptress fall tour 2023

Dallas Heavy Doom Trio TEMPTRESS Announces Fall 2023 Tour!

TEMPTRESS is a crew thunderously tempting fate to boom their way beyond Big Texas at sonic speed. They got together in early 2019, released an EP five months later, and haven’t stalled their velocity for even a moment since.

In less than five years, TEMPTRESS has drawn a loyal fan base and press support for their music, as well as an outstanding list of live performances supporting both legendary acts and current rising stars of the heavy music world (regardless of the recent chaotic fluctuations in the world of touring).

They continue to climb from underground with their first full-length album, SEE, released through Metal Assault Records on March 3, 2023. The trio is eager to resume their travels across the USA roadways and announces a new round of live shows to sustain the momentum for SEE.

Bassist/vocalist Christian Wright dispatches with tour particulars:

“We are excited to take our project through the upper midwest, west coast, and SW this Fall, in support of our latest effort ‘See’, which was released in March via Metal Assault. We can’t wait to catch up with friends, family, and peers both new and old along our journey. We have solid local support for the whole run and are thankful for those who helped in any way through the booking process. Community is key.

Our dear friends Dustlord (Tulsa, OK) will be joining us for the first six dates, and Grail (Phoenix, AZ) will be with us on the three Arizona dates. We extend a very special thanks to them. We are doing “An evening with” in Marfa, TX, which will likely include some heavy psych improv as well as new material. This will be a first for us and a glorious way to re-enter our home state of Texas. We look forward to seeing you out on the road.”

Temptress – Fall Tour 2023:
Oct. 04 – Joplin, MO @ Blackthorn #
Oct. 05 – Des Moines, IA @ Hull Ave Tavern #
Oct. 06 – Madison, WI @ The Wisco #
Oct. 07 – Minneapolis, MN @ Studio B #
Oct. 08 – Iowa City, IA @ Gabe’s #
Oct. 09 – Kansas City, MO @ Minibar #
Oct. 11 – Denver, CO @ The Crypt
Oct. 12 – SLC, UT @ Aces High Saloon
Oct. 13 – Boise, ID @ Neurolux
Oct. 14 – Moscow, ID @ Mikeys
Oct. 15 – Seattle, WA @ Funhouse
Oct. 17 – Olympia, WA @ Cryptatropa Bar
Oct. 18 – Portland, OR @ High Water Mark
Oct. 19 – Medford, OR @ Johnny B’s
Oct. 20 – Oakland, CA @ The Golden Bull
Oct. 21 – San Francisco, CA @ Kilowatt Bar
Oct. 22 – Sacramento, CA @ Old Ironsides
Oct. 25 – Las Vegas, NV @ Dive Bar
Oct. 26 – Palmdale, CA @ Transplants Brewing
Oct. 27 – Los Angeles, CA @ Permanent Records
Oct. 28 – San Diego, CA @ Til-Two Club
Oct. 29 – Tempe, AZ @ Yucca Tap Room **
Oct. 30 – Tucson, AZ @ House Of Bards **
Oct. 30 – Bisbee, AZ @ The Quarry **
Nov. 01 – ABQ, NM @ (TBA)
Nov. 02 – Taos, NM @ Mercury House
Nov. 04 – Marfa, TX @ Planet Marfa
Nov. 05 – San Angelo, TX @ The Deadhorse

# w/ Dustlord / ** w/ Grail

Kelsey Wilson – Guitar, Vocals
Andi Cuda – Drums, Vocals
Christian Wright – Bass, Vocals



Temptress, Fall Tour Trailer


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Quarterly Review: Smokey Mirror, Jack Harlon & the Dead Crows, Noorag, KOLLAPS\E, Healthyliving, MV & EE, The Great Machine, Swanmay, Garden of Ash, Tidal

Posted in Reviews on May 9th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Hey there and welcome back to the Spring 2023 Quarterly Review. Today I’ve got another 10-record batch for your perusal, and if you’ve never been to this particular party before, it’s part of an ongoing series this site does every couple months (you might say quarterly), and this week picks up from yesterday as well as a couple weeks ago, when another 70 records of various types were covered. If there’s a lesson to be learned from all of it, it’s that we live in a golden age of heavy music, be it metal, rock, doom, sludge, psych, prog, noise or whathaveyou. Especially for whathaveyou.

So here we are, you and I, exploring the explorations in these many works and across a range of styles. As always, I hope you find something that feels like it’s speaking directly to you. For what it’s worth, I didn’t even make it through the first 10 of the 50 releases to be covered this week yesterday without ordering a CD from Bandcamp, so I’m here in a spirit of learning too. We’ll go together and dive back in.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Smokey Mirror, Smokey Mirror

Smokey Mirror Smokey Mirror

Those in the know will tell you that the vintage-sound thing is over, everybody’s a goth now, blah blah heavygaze. That sounds just fine with Dallas, Texas, boogie rockers Smokey Mirror, who on their self-titled Rise Above Records first LP make their shuffle a party in “Invisible Hand” and the class-conscious “Pathless Forest” even before they dig into the broader jam of the eight-minute “Magick Circle,” panning the solos in call and response, drum solo, softshoe groove, full on whatnot. Meanwhile, “Alpha-State Dissociative Trance” would be glitch if it had a keyboard on it, a kind of math rock from 1972, and its sub-three-minute stretch is followed by the acoustic guitar/harmonica folk blues of “Fried Vanilla Super Trapeze” and the heavy fuzz resurgence of “Sacrificial Altar,” which is long like “Magick Circle” but with more jazz in its winding jam and more of a departure into it (four minutes into the total 7:30 if you’re wondering), while the Radio Moscow-style smooth bop and rip of “A Thousand Days in the Desert” and shred-your-politics of “Who’s to Say” act as touch-ground preface for the acoustic noodle and final hard strums of “Recurring Nightmare,” as side B ends in mirror to side A. An absolute scorcher of a debut and all the more admirable for wearing its politics on its sleeve where much heavy rock hides safe behind its “I’m not political” whiteness, Smokey Mirror‘s Smokey Mirror reminds that, every now and again, those in the know don’t know shit. Barnburner heavy rock and roll forever.

Smokey Mirror on Facebook

Rise Above Records website


Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows, Hail to the Underground

Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows Hail to the Underground

The moral of the story is that the members of Melbourne’s Jack Harlon and the Dead Crows — may they someday be famous enough that I won’t feel compelled to point out that none of them is Jack; the lineup is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Tim Coutts-Smith, guitarist Jordan Richardson, bassist Liam Barry and drummer Josh McCombe — came up in the ’90s, or at least in the shadow thereof. Hail to the Underground collects eight covers in 35 minutes and is the Aussie rockers’ first outing for Blues Funeral, following two successful albums in 2018’s Hymns and 2021’s The Magnetic Ridge (review here), and while on paper it seems like maybe it’s the result of just-signed-gotta-get-something-out motivation, the takes on tunes by Aussie rockers God, the Melvins, Butthole Surfers, My Bloody Valentine and Joy Division (their “Day of Lords” is a nodding highlight) rest organically alongside the boogie blues of “Roll & Tumble” (originally by Hambone Willie Newbern), the electrified surge of Bauhaus‘ “Dark Entries” and the manic peaks of “Eye Shaking King” by Amon Düül II. It’s not the triumphant, moment-of-arrival third full-length one awaits — and it would be soon for it to be, but it’s how the timing worked with the signing — but Hail to the Underground adds complexity to the narrative of the band’s sound in communing with Texan acid noise, country blues from 1929 to emo and goth rock icons in a long-player’s span, and it’ll certainly keep the fire burning until the next record gets here.

Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website


Noorag, Fossils

Noorag Fossils

Minimalist in social media presence (though on YouTube and Bandcamp, streaming services, etc.), Sardinian one-man outfit Noorag — also stylized all-lowercase: noorag — operates at the behest of multi-instrumentalist/producer Federico “WalkingFred” Paretta, and with drums by Daneiele Marcia, the project’s debut EP, Fossils, collects seven short pieces across 15 minutes that’s punk in urgency, sans-vocal in the execution, sludged in tone, metallic in production, and adventurous in some of its time changes. Pieces like the ambient opener “Hhon” and “Amanita Shot,” which follows headed on the quick into the suitably stomping “Brachiopod” move easily between each other since the songs themselves are tied together through their instrumental approach and relatively straightforward arrangements. “Cochlea Stone” is a centerpiece under two minutes long with emphasis rightfully on the bass, while “Ritual Electric” teases the stonershuggah nuance in the groove of “Acid Apricot”‘s second half, and the added “Digital Cave” roughs up the recording while maybe or maybe not actually being the demo it claims to be. Are those drums programmed? We may never know, but at a quarter of an hour long, it’s not like Noorag are about to overstay their welcome. Fitting for the EP format as a way to highlight its admirable intricacy, Fossils feels almost ironically fresh and sounds like the beginning point of a broader progression. Here’s hoping.

Noorag on YouTube

Noorag on Bandcamp


KOLLAPS\E, Phantom Centre

Kollapse Phantom Centre

With the notable exceptions of six-minute opener “Era” and the 8:36 “Uhtceare” with the gradual build to its explosion into the “Stones From the Sky” moment that’s a requisite for seemingly all post-metal acts to utilize at least once (they turn it into a lead later, which is satisfying), Sweden’s KOLLAPS\E — oh your pesky backslash — pair their ambient stretches with stately, shout-topped declarations of riff that sound like early Isis with the clarity of production and intent of later Isis, which is a bigger difference than it reads. The layers of guttural vocals at the forefront of “Anaemia” add an edge of extremity offset by the post-rock float of the guitar, and “Bränt Barn Skyr Elden” (‘burnt child dreads the fire,’ presumably a Swedish aphorism) answers by building tension subtly in its first two minutes before going full-barrage atmosludge for the next as it, “Anaemia,” and the closing pair of “Radiant Static” and “Murrain” harness short-song momentum on either side of four minutes long — something the earlier “Beautiful Desolate” hinted at between “Era” and “Uhtceare” — to capture a distinct flow for side B and giving the ending of “Murrain” its due as a culmination for the entire release. Crushing or spacious or both when it wants to be, Phantom Centre is a strong, pandemic-born debut that looks forward while showing both that it’s schooled in its own genre and has begun to decide which rules it wants to break.

KOLLAPS\E on Facebook

Trepanation Recordings on Bandcamp


Healthyliving, Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief

Healthyliving Songs of Abundance Psalms of Grief

A multinational conglomerate that would seem to be at least partially assembled in Edinburg, Scotland, Healthyliving — also all-lowercase: healthyliving — offer folkish melodicism atop heavy atmospheric rock for a kind of more-present-than-‘gaze-implies feel that is equal parts meditative, expansive and emotive on their debut full-length, Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief. With the vocals of Amaya López-Carromero (aka Maud the Moth) given a showcase they more than earn via performance, multi-instrumentalist Scott McLean (guitar, bass, synth) and drummer Stefan Pötzsch are able to conjure the scene-setting heft of “Until,” tap into grunge strum with a gentle feel on “Bloom” or meander into outright crush with ambient patience on “Galleries” (a highlight) or move through the intensity of “To the Gallows,” the unexpected surge in the bridge of “Back to Back” or the similarly structured but distinguished through the vocal layering and melancholic spirit of the penultimate “Ghost Limbs” with a long quiet stretch before closer “Obey” wraps like it’s raking leaves in rhythm early and soars on a strident groove that caps with impact and sprawl. They are not the only band operating in this sphere of folk-informed heavy post-rock by any means, but as their debut, this nine-song collection pays off the promise of their 2021 two-songer Until/Below (review here) and heralds things to come both beautiful and sad.

Healthyliving on Facebook

LaRubia Producciones website


MV & EE, Green Ark

mv & ee green ark

Even before Vermont freak-psych two-piece MV & EEMatt Valentine and Erika Elder, both credited with a whole bunch of stuff including, respectively, ‘the real deal’ and ‘was’ — are nestled into the organic techno jam of 19-minute album opener “Free Range,” their Green Ark full-length has offered lush lysergic hypnosis via an extended introductory drone. Far more records claim to go anywhere than actually do, but the funky piano of “No Money” and percussion and wah dream-disco of “Dancin’,” with an extra-fun keyboard line late, set up the 20-minute “Livin’ it Up,” in a way that feels like surefooted experimentalism; Elder and Valentine exploring these aural spaces with the confidence of those who’ve been out wandering across more than two decades’ worth of prior occasions. That is to say, “Livin’ it Up” is comfortable as it engages with its own unknown self, built up around a bass line and noodly solo over a drum machine with hand percussion accompanying, willfully repetitive like the opener in a way that seems to dig in and then dig in again. The 10-minute “Love From Outer Space” and nine-minute mellow-psych-but-for-the-keyboard-beat-hitting-you-in-the-face-and-maybe-a-bit-of-play-around-that-near-the-end “Rebirth” underscore the message that the ‘out there’ is the starting point rather than the destination for MV & EE, but that those brave enough to go will be gladly taken along.

MV & EE Blogspot

Ramble Records store


The Great Machine, Funrider

The Great Machine Funrider

Israeli trio The Great Machine — brothers Aviran Haviv (bass/vocals) and Omer Haviv (guitar/vocals) as well as drummer/vocalist Michael Izaky — find a home on Noisolution for their fifth full-length in nine years, Funrider, trading vocal duties back and forth atop songs that pare down some of the jammier ideology of 2019’s less-than-ideally-titled Greatestits, still getting spacious in side-A ender “Pocketknife” and the penultimate “Some Things Are Bound to Fail,” which is also the longest inclusion at 6:05. But the core of Funrider is in the quirk and impact of rapid-fire cuts like “Zarathustra” and “Hell & Back” at the outset, the Havivs seeming to trade vocal duties throughout to add to the variety as the rumble before the garage-rock payoff of “Day of the Living Dead” gives over to the title-track or that fuzzier take moves into “Pocketknife.” Acoustic guitar starts “Fornication Under the Consent of the King” but it becomes sprinter Europunk bombast before its two minutes are done, and with the rolling “Notorious” and grungeminded “Mountain She” ripping behind, the most unifying factor throughout Funrider is its lack of predictability. That’s no minor achievement for a band on their fifth record making a shift in their approach after a decade together, but the desert rocking “The Die” that closes with a rager snuck in amid the chug is a fitting summary of the trio’s impressive creative reach.

The Great Machine on Facebook

Noisolution store


Swanmay, Frantic Feel

Swanmay Frantic Feel

Following-up their 2017 debut, Stoner Circus, Austrian trio Swanmay offer seven songs and 35 minutes of new material with the self-issued Frantic Feel, finding their foundation in the bass work of Chris Kaderle and Niklas Lueger‘s drumming such that Patrick Àlvaro‘s ultra-fuzzed guitar has as strong a platform to dance all over as possible. Vocals in “The Art of Death” are suitably drunk-sounding (which doesn’t actually hurt it), but “Mashara” and “Cats and Snails” make a rousing opening salvo of marked tonal depth and keep-it-casual stoner saunter, soon also to be highlighted in centerpiece “Blooze.” On side B, “Stone Cold” feels decidedly more like it has its life together, and “Old Trails” tightens the reins from there in terms of structure, but while closer “Dead End” stays fuzzy and driving like the two songs before, the noise quotient is upped significantly by the time it’s done, and that brings back some of the looser swing of “Mashara” or “The Art of Death.” But when Swanmay want to be — and that’s not all the time, to their credit — they are massively heavy, and they put that to raucous use with a production that is accordingly loud and vibrant. Seems simple reading a paragraph, maybe, but the balance they strike in these songs is a difficult one, and even if it’s just for the guitar and bass tones, Frantic Feel demands an audience.

Swanmay on Facebook

Swanmay on Bandcamp


Garden of Ash, Garden of Ash

Garden of Ash self-titled

“Death will come swiftly to those who are weak,” goes the crooning verse lyric from Garden of Ash‘s “Death Valley” at the outset of the young Edmonton, Alberta, trio’s self-titled, self-released debut full-length. Bassist Kristina Hunszinger delivers the line with due severity, but the Witch Mountain-esque slow nod and everybody-dies lyrics of “A Cautionary Tale” show more of the tongue-in-cheek point of view of the lyrics. The plot thickens — or at very least hits harder — when the self-recorded outing’s metallic production style is considered. In the drums of Levon Vokins — who also provides backing vocals as heard on “Roses” and elsewhere — the (re-amped) guitar of Zach Houle and even in the mostly-sans-effects presentation of Hunszinger‘s vocals as well as their placement at the forefront of the mix, it’s heavy metal more than heavy rock, but as Vokins takes lead vocals in “World on Fire” with Hunszinger joining for the chorus, the riff is pure boogie and the earlier “Amnesia” fosters doomly swing, so what may in the longer term be a question of perspective is yet unanswered in terms of are they making the sounds they want to and pushing into trad metal genre tenets, or is it just a matter of getting their feet under them as a new band? I don’t know, but songs and performance are both there, so this first full-length does its job in giving Garden of Ash something from which to move forward while serving notice to those with ears to hear them. Either way, the bonus track “Into the Void” is especially notable for not being a Black Sabbath cover, and by the time they get there, that’s not at all the first surprise to be had.

Garden of Ash on Facebook

Garden of Ash on Bandcamp


Tidal, The Bends

Tidal The Bends

Checking in at one second less and 15 minutes flat, “The Bends” is the first release from Milwaukee-based three-piece Tidal, and it’s almost immediately expansive. With shades of El Paraiso-style jazz psych, manipulated samples and hypnotic drone at its outset, the first two minutes build into a wash with mellow keys/guitar effects (whatever, it sounds more like sax and they’re all credited with ‘noise,’ so I’m doing my best here) and it’s not until Sam Wallman‘s guitar steps forward out of the ambience surrounding at nearly four minutes deep that Alvin Vega‘s drums make their presence known. Completed by Max Muenchow‘s bass, which righteously holds the core while Wallman airs out, the roll is languid and more patient than one would expect for a first-release jam, but there’s a pickup and Tidal do get raucous as “The Bends” moves into its midsection, scorching for a bit until they quiet down again, only to reemerge at 11:10 from the ether of their own making with a clearheaded procession to carry them through the crescendo and to the letting-go-now drift of echo that caps. I hear tell they’ve got like an hour and a half of this stuff recorded and they’re going to release them one by one. They picked an intriguing one to start with as the layers of drone and noise help fill out the otherwise empty space in the instrumental jam without being overwrought or sacrificing the spontaneous nature of the track. Encouraging start. Will be ready when the next jam hits.

Tidal on Instagram

Tidal on Bandcamp


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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Mario Rodriguez, Tyler Davis & Caleb Hollowed from Smokey Mirror

Posted in Questionnaire on May 1st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

smokey mirror

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: Mario Rodriguez, Tyler Davis & Caleb Hollowed from Smokey Mirror

How did you come to do what you do?

Tyler Davis: Years and years of the universe and myself always pushing me to where I am today.

Mario Rodriguez: I fell in love with music at a young age. As a child my mother exposed me to soul, my father exposed me to classic rock, and my sister exposed me to metal. At age 9 I began exploring music for myself and started actively seeking out sounds that excited me. At age 12 I started playing guitar and at age 13 I played my first club show. I played in bands on and off throughout high school and began pursuing music more seriously after graduation. By age 20 Tyler and I formed Smokey Mirror.

Caleb Hollowed: I started playing music with friends in middle school and by the time I was 18 I started looking for gigs. I grew up listening to bands like The Allman Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, and other classic groups. I knew in my heart that’s what I was meant to do, no question.

Describe your first musical memory.

Tyler: MTV in the 90s and Soul Train reruns were big for me as a kid. But listening to my grandfathers Bob Wills and Willie Nelson records, or learning about ZZ Top listening to Q102 at home in Dallas with my dad are some of my happiest early musical memories.

Mario: My earliest memories are hearing Luther Vandross and Teddy Pendergrass with my mom. I also have early memories of hearing Santana and The Beatles with my dad.

Caleb: My mother listening to “CSNY – Deja Vu” on an old tape. Still love that group so much! Also the sound of Patsy Cline’s voice is prevalent in my early memories. I remember my mom making me two step with her in our family kitchen to old country songs.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Tyler: Witnessing George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic perform in Dallas 2012, or performing with Smokey Mirror in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on my 27th birthday.

Mario: My best musical memories are seeing Motörhead in 2009 and B.B. King in 2013. I’ll never forget how it felt to be in their presence.

Caleb: Seeing Dickie Betts with The Allman Brothers Band has to be my top musical memory.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Tyler: Any time living a life creating and playing music gets tough or complicated, we’re forced to come to terms with why we do what we do, which is serving something higher than ourselves.

Mario: When I was in my teens and early twenties I accepted a lot of mistreatment from former bandmates for the sake of being involved in a project that I’d poured a lot of time, effort, and resources into. Eventually I realized that nothing was worth compromising my dignity, so I started over from square one and formed Smokey Mirror with bandmates who are both kind and mutually respectful. In the end I learned an invaluable lesson.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Tyler: Hopefully towards true clarity and whole, honest expression of self while being considerate of but not controlled by external circumstances.

Mario: Ideally, artistic progression leads to a never-ending journey of self discovery. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, forever into eternity.

Caleb: To a true sense of self. It may never lead to anywhere, just a long journey that never ends. People change, so does artistic expression.

How do you define success?

Tyler: Feeling content with your legacy, when we depart we can’t take things only leave them.

Mario: I also define success as contentment with one’s legacy. I’d also add that success can be measured by the greatness one inspires in others.

Caleb: Being pleased with something you’ve created or been apart of.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Tyler: Witnessing the realities of working in the US healthcare system was kind of a bummer, but anything we can learn from isn’t a total loss.

Mario: I’ve seen a lot of talented, promising musicians allow their pride and poor self control to stunt their musical growth.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

Tyler: Album #2 and 3!!!

Mario: Albums #2 and #3 for sure! Also maybe a catapult that can be used to launch all the world’s billionaires into the sun.

Caleb: There’s so much, but I guess I’d like to do more vocally driven songs with 3-4 part harmonies.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Tyler: Traveling and experiencing the world outside of the US, whether touring with Smokey or on vacation with my dog and girlfriend

Mario: I’m looking forward to traveling Costa Rica with my girlfriend later this year.

Caleb: I love nature. Last year I was supposed to go to Yellowstone with my dad, but there was a lot of rain that caused the roads to wash away, BS you might remember from the news. I think we’ll try it again this year after Smokey is back from tour.



Smokey Mirror, “Magick Circle” official video

Smokey Mirror, Smokey Mirror ep (2017)

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Smokey Mirror Sign to Rise Above Records; Self-Titled Debut Out May 5

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 3rd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

If you’re a heavy boogie rock band getting signed to Rise Above Records, that’s some boogie I want to hear. Congrats to Smokey Mirror out of Dallas for signing to said ultra-respected purveyor to deliver their self-titled debut full-length on May 5. First single, “Magick Circle,” indeed is a burner shuffle, and if you want a preview of a couple of the other tunes, the band’s Bandcamp has “A Thousand Days in the Desert” as a standalone single and their 2017 self-titled first EP had “Invisible Hand” and “Magick Circle” too, so at least that should give some idea of where they’re coming from.

And the video below is kind of charming. Maybe that sounds smarmy and I don’t really mean it that way, but yeah, I went to shows in garages and shit when I was young and it was as much about being with the people you were with as it was about anything else and it was a party. I think that happened to me once. Or maybe it was a movie. I don’t know. Look, sometimes you get stoned in the afternoon.

The PR wire has details on Smokey Mirror‘s Smokey Mirror (LP), which is out, once again, on May 5, once again, on friggin’ Rise Above Records. Nice one:

smokey mirror

Groovy Psych Rockers SMOKEY MIRROR Announce Self Titled Album to be Released May 5th on Rise Above Records!

Share Single “Magick Circle” & Music Video

There are times in the life of every temporal traveller when thunderous electric boogie rock is the only thing that makes any sense at all. Formed in Dallas, Texas, amid the dying embers of 2015, Smokey Mirror have dedicated themselves to spreading a gospel of scorched-earth riff worship and wild, psychedelic abandon. Led by vocalist/guitarist Mario Rodriguez, they have steadily nurtured their untameable sound, building toward the impending release of their self-titled debut album. Completed by bassist Tyler Davis, guitarist Caleb Hollowed and drummer Cam Martin, Smokey Mirror are only just beginning their trip…

“Our musical masterplan was to write songs that blend energetic heavy blues rock with elements of progressive and freeform styles of music,” says Mario, “We wanted to make music that is engaging to both casual listeners and the refined ears of musicians. We performed around Texas as a trio [with former drummer Josh Miller] for a few years and began collaborating with Cam in the spring of 2018, just before SXSW. A few months later, we met our guitarist Caleb at Charley’s Guitar Shop [in Dallas], where he works as a repairman. We started playing as a quartet and began finalizing material for our first full-length shortly thereafter.”

Capturing the fiery, hypnotic chaos of Smokey Mirror on tape was always going to require some expertise. Initial sessions took place at Palmyra Studios in the small town of Palmer, Texas, with Paul Middleton in the engineer’s chair, and a whole load of classic, vintage gear.

“Our engineer, Paul Middleton, was the bassist and singer for the late 70’s heavy rock band Blackhorse,” says Mario, “He also spent decades working as a touring sound engineer for the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Julio Iglesias, during the peaks of their careers! Palmyra uses all vintage, analogue recording equipment, including two-inch tape machines and a 1969 Neive console formerly owned by Abbey Road studios.”

Originally due to be recorded in early 2020, Smokey Mirror’s debut faced the same delays that scuppered everyone’s best laid plans back in that accursed year, along even more unforeseen obstacles to contend with. Nonetheless, rock ‘n’ roll simply refuses to be stopped.

‘Smokey Mirror’ Track List:
1. Invisible Hand
2. Pathless Forest
3. Magick Circle
4. Alpha-State Dissociative Trance
5. Fried Vanilla Spider Trapeze
6. Sacrificial Altar
7. A Thousand Days in the Desert
8. Who’s To Say
9. Recurring Nightmare

Album Art and Pre-Orders Will Be Available SOON!

Mario finishes, “Our shows are raw, loud, energetic, spontaneous! Amps screeching, cymbals crashing, bodies dancing, beer spilling, glass breaking, smoke filling the air, and people living in the moment. Our plan is to continue writing music that pushes and inspires us, and to produce more recorded works that expand upon the creative path we’ve set on our first album. We want to travel the world as much as possible and share our music with as many crowds as we can reach!”

In a world that makes no sense at all, only rock ‘n’ roll can still ring true. Smokey Mirror have tapped into some kind of new magic on their first full-length album, and the results rock with more power, passion and psychedelic fervour than any album, debut or otherwise, in recent memory.

Take a look in the Smokey Mirror and you will see kaleidoscopic multitudes grinning back at you. Embrace the electric boogie. It’s coming for us all.

Smokey Mirror:
Mario Rodriguez – guitar/vocals
Tyler Davis – bass
Caleb Hollowed – guitar
Cam Martin – drums



Smokey Mirror, “Magick Circle” official video

Smokey Mirror, Smokey Mirror ep (2017)

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Mothership Tour Starts Tonight in Oklahoma City

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 3rd, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Mothership (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Yeah, these dates were posted before, but that was in August, so you might be forgiven for having let go of the fact that the Dallas-and-then-some three-piece were headed out this week in the Midwest/Southeast. They’ll do Doomed & Stoned in Wisconsin and Snowblind Fest in Atlanta on what’s a pretty tidy run hitting good spots to hit. I bet Mothership pull people on a Friday night in Lincoln, Nebraska, and I mean that as a compliment to both them and the city.

You know what’s awesome about Mothership shows at this point? There’s so little to prove. Have these guys ever had a bad gig? Maybe like in 2012 even? I feel like the most oldschool thing about Mothership at this point, more than riffs and swing, groove and vibe, is how utterly reliable they are. Going to a Mothership show? Well, sweet. They’re gonna deliver or die trying. Guaranteed. Enjoy.

They’re simply not a band who half-ass it.

I guess the point ultimately is show up when they play if you can. 11 shows in 11 days, two fests. I think that’s pretty emblematic of who they are.

From social media:

Mothership nov 2022 tour poster

It’s been a long ass time, but we are finally heading back out on the road this week!

Maybe I’ll see ya out there? #mothership

Thu 11/3 – Oklahoma City, OK – Blue Note
Fri 11/4 – Lincoln, NE – 1867 Bar
Sat 11/5 – Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon
(Doomed & Stoned Festival)
Sun 11/6 – Chicago, IL – Reggie’s
Mon 11/7 – Hamtramck, MI – The Sanctuary
Tue 11/8 – Youngstown, OH – Westside Bowl
Wed 11/9 – Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
Thu 11/10 – Louisville, KY – Portal
Fri 11/11 – Nashville, TN – The Basement
Sat 11/12 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
(Snowblind Festival)
Sun 11/13 – New Orleans, LA – Santos Bar

Mothership is:
Kelley Juett – Guitars/Vox
Kyle Juett – Bass/Vox
Judge Smith – Drums


Mothership, “Lunar Master” live at Psycho Las Vegas 2022

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Wo Fat Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 20th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Wo fat

The May 6 release date for Wo Fat‘s new album, The Singularity (review here), has come and gone, and so it’s time for the band to head out to herald the cause. Recall that the Texan forerunners-o’-riff — and considering Texas, that’s saying something — announced in March that they’d revamped their lineup, bringing in Matt Watkins on second guitar (he’d previously played on their first record) and new bassist Patrick Smith alongside founding mainstays Michael Walter (drums) and Kent Stump (guitar/vocals; you remember him, he probably mastered your album). This will be the first tour undertaken by this incarnation of the group, already in a way moving forward from The Singularity toward some unknown future.

Booked by Sound of Liberation, who posted the following announcement, the run isn’t the longest we’ve seen of US bands returning to Euro shores, but with slots at Rock im Wald, Lake on Fire and a big old mystery spot between Denmark and the Netherlands on Aug. 1 — I’m sure there’s something happening that day — it’s nothing if not efficient in covering a good amount of ground. Note the Salzburg date with Samavayo supporting as well.

From socials:

wo fat euro tour


Dear friends,

we’re happy to announce that Texas’ riff dealers Wo Fat return to Europe with a NEW ALBUM this summer!

A crushingly heavy stoner rock band from Dallas, Texas, Wo Fat are a power trio whose music harks back to the fuzzy punch of ’70s hard rock, with an added dash of prog rock adventure, a fistful of amped-up boogie, and some contemporary metal muscle for seasoning.

Sound of Liberation proudly presents:

29.07. (DE) Michelau, Rock im Wald Festival
30.07. (DE) Hamburg, Lazy Bones @ Gruenspan
31.07. (DK) Copenhagen, Spillestedet Stengade
01.08. TBA
02.08. (NL) Rotterdam, Baroeg Rotterdam
03.08. (NL) Nijmegen, Merleyn
04.08. (DE) Cham, L.A. Cham *
05.08. (AT) Waldhausen, Lake on Fire
06.08. (IT) Osoppo, Pietrasonica Fest
07.08. (AT) Salzburg, Rockhouse Salzburg *
08.08. (AT) Vienna, ARENA WIEN
09.08. (DE) Berlin, Urban Spree
11.08. (CH) Bagnes, PALP festival
12.08. (BE) Kortrijk, ALCATRAZ MUSIC

* SUPPORT: Samavayo

Don’t miss out on the hottest swampadelic fuzz act out there!

Your SOL Crew

WO FAT is:
Kent Stump – guitar, vocals
Matt Watkins – guitar
Michael Walter – drums
Patrick Smith – bass




Wo Fat, The Singularity (2022)

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Wo Fat, The Singularity

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 4th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

wo fat the singularity

[Click play above to stream Wo Fat’s The Singularity in full. Album is out Friday on Ripple Music.]

The first several minutes of Wo Fat‘s “Orphans of the Singe” are dedicated to putting the listener back into the band’s particular otherworldly swamp. Atmospheric guitar and bass, far back but tense tom runs and a generally hazy air permeate the build into the percussion-laced, 13:55 opener’s true boogie. Thus it is that the Dallas, Texas-based here-trio set the stage for their seventh studio full-length, The Singularity, also their second album for Ripple Music and their first offering in the six years since 2016’s Midnight Cometh (review here), though a good chunk of that time was spent on tour.

Between the firebreathing robot dragon on the album art and the rising flood waters beneath it, it’s hard to know precisely which apocalypse they’re referring to — one suspects hints of others are strewn about the intricate details of the piece — but suffice it to say there are plenty to choose from and the post-jam harmonized vocal hook that emerges amid the crashing cymbals and telltale fuzzy shred in that first track, “Truth is rebellion/In a land of illusion,” the band haven’t been blind to the goings on over the last half-decade-plus in their home country.

The Singularity comprises seven songs and runs a CD-limit-testing 75 minutes — a definitive double-LP — and it reassures familiar aspects of who Wo Fat are in terms of sound and style while furthering the path of growth that’s made them one of their generation’s most rightly-appreciated bands. The fuzz, funk and solo work of guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump and the crash and thud — the latter particularly in stomping highlight second cut “The Snows of Banquo IV,” which is outright heavier than Wo Fat have ever been — of Michael Walter‘s drums, and the steady low-end carry of Zack Busby‘s basslines assure that as far out as they might go on an extended piece like the leadoff or “Overworlder” (11:55), with its psychedelic flourish of swirling effects later on, the more chug-motoring “The Witching Chamber” (9:25) and the sum-it-all-up-and-make-it-go-further closer “The Oracle,” which brings more melodic complexity to its instrumentalism close to the album’s finish as if to hint that there’s still more ground for them to cover, they are not without an underlying sense of structure.

Memorable choruses are nothing new to Wo Fat, as their catalog reissues over the last year-plus have duly asserted for anyone who might’ve missed out the first time, but the key to what they do is in the balance between crafted, riff-based, blues-minded, swamp-stank heavy rock and roll, jazz-informed jams, and a sense that the party you’re having might just be the last one you get before the whole thing — i.e. the universe — comes crashing down on itself.

In mood, this is the crux of The Singularity. “The Witching Chamber,” “Overworlder” — which picks right up where “The Snows of Banquo IV” leave off and makes its way toward its own genuinely exciting crescendo — and the telling riff-slappy centerpiece “The Unraveling” (again, maybe of everything) do not fail and do not cease to engage. And the darker thematic is hardly new for Wo Fat either. Hell, their first record in 2006 was literally called The Gathering Dark, so yes, that is a recognizable element, even if one more complex in its presentation now than it was those 16 years ago.

Wo Fat

The swamp may still be haunted, but with different ghosts, in other words, though a cut like “The Witching Chamber” is about as classic Wo Fat as one might get, from its hypnotic intro answering back “Orphans of the Singe” to the manner in which its verse seems to emerge from the murk of its own devise to joy they make it to follow along with the groove that takes hold from there until the final bits of rumblefuzz fade into the crashing start of the title-track, the band clearly aware of each song’s effect on the audience and the way in which they want their songs to flow across the album’s extended span. It is no minor feat to put together a 75-minute 2LP and have it lock in its audience for the duration. This is ultimately why Wo Fat are the kind of band from whom one might spend six years looking forward to a new record.

With Stump (who also donates some electric piano in the sonic hithers and yons) and Walter (whose off-kit percussive contributions are no less integral) as the founding core of the band — also co-owners of Crystal Clear Sound in Dallas, where The Singularity was made — Wo Fat are masters of their sound, however they might seek to push themselves creatively in any given track. The swinging procession and scorch of the title-track demonstrates this as plainly as the rest of what surrounds, if perhaps in somewhat condensed form compared to “Overworlder” or “Orphans of the Singe,” etc., and the shifts the band pulls off between one song and the next, the feeling they bring to their jams — not lazy or purely exploratory; there’s a plot and a basic forward idea, but they’re ready to meander en route back to where they came from — isn’t to be understated.

There’s consciousness in “The Singularity” as though the band were functioning as one of the coherent thinking machines the lyrics describe, and the development of that can be traced back at least over the last decade of their work. The Singularity is comforting in some contrast to the grim thematic in that the songs themselves reaffirm the band’s modus, of which progression is an integral part. If the world is ending — and the only reason it wouldn’t be is because it already happened — then at least we got one more Wo Fat album out of the deal.

Whatever they do next will inherently find their dynamic somewhat shifted, as Busby is out of the group and Patrick Smith has joined in his place, along with Matt Watkins, who played on the aforementioned The Gathering Dark, rejoining on second guitar — the acquisition of which makes more sense in the context of the dual leads at the culmination of the title-track, as well as in the farthest-out spaces of “The Oracle” subsequent — but Wo Fat, now a veteran act at the vanguard of Texas and broader American heavy rock, will hopefully continue to thrive, explore, and harness their processes as they do here. Any shape their future might take, they leave no question that it will be theirs.

Wo Fat, “The Snows of Banquo IV” official visualizer

Wo Fat on Facebook

Wo Fat on Instagram

Wo Fat on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Facebook

Ripple Music on Instagram

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Wo Fat Announce New Bassist & Second Guitarist

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 16th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

A double-guitar incarnation of Wo Fat circa 2022 is most definitely an intriguing proposition, and while part of me feels like, headed into the release of their new album, The Singularity, as they are, the news of a revamped lineup — which also includes bringing Patrick Smith in on bass in place of Zack Busby, who plays on said record — kind of undercuts the idea of it as the latest Wo Fat have to offer. That is to say, even before The Singularity is available to the listening public, Wo Fat have pretty clearly moved on.

That’s one way of looking at it. The other, I suspect, is that the re-addition of Matt Watkins on guitar (he played on 2006’s debut, The Gathering Dark) allows Wo Fat to bring the new album to life on stage with all the more vividness for the ability to greater capture the depths of layers and expanses of their jams, as well as the full-bore fuzz they utilize in their more rocking moments. As to how the changes will affect the band’s work from here, if you’re lucky enough to see them sometime this year, you’ll probably have a better idea. The rest of the universe will just have to wait.

From social media:

Wo fat

We’re pleased to announce a couple new additions to the band: Patrick Smith is joining us playing bass and OG Wo Fat member Matt Watkins has come back to play guitar with us. Matt played way back in the early days of Wo Fat. We also want to send a huge thank you to Zack Busby, for supremely kicking ass on bass with us for the last 6 years. He recently decided he needed to step down, but really brought a lot to the band and helped shape the sound of the new record quite a bit.

WO FAT is:
Kent Stump – guitar, vocals
Matt Watkins – guitar
Michael Walter – drums
Patrick Smith – bass



Wo Fat, “The Witching Chamber”

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