The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 18

Posted in Radio on June 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

Before I get started, I want to say thanks to Mark Kitchens from Stone Machine Electric for the artwork above. He did the platypus design and I added the blue background and yellow text kind of thinking it would be like one of those old title cards from David Letterman or something. I love it, so yeah. Thanks, Mark.

Like the prior episode, this one was themed around a playlist of some of the best of 2019 so far. I actually didn’t get to hear the whole show because I was at Maryland Doom Fest this past weekend, but I did check in on it while doing other stuff in Frederick. One way or the other, the playlist starts with Holy Grove and has Yawning ManMagic CircleDuelNebulaRoadsawEarth and Across Tundras on it, so you know it’s going to be killer. Really, the only thing I’d have listened for was to make sure I didn’t ruin it with my own derpy derp derp.

I wanted to include some lesser-known stuff here too, so check out the Cosmic Fall, SÂVEREaldor Bealu and Mount Saturn tracks if you haven’t, and that Centrum at the end I really dig a lot. Hell, the whole thing is great. You really can’t go wrong when your operating theme is “stuff that’s awesome.”

Thanks if you got to check it out.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 06.21.19

Holy Grove Valley of the Mystics Holy Grove II 0:10:37
Duel Drifting Alone Valley of Shadows 0:04:27
The Well Death Song Death and Consolation 0:04:48
BREAK
Across Tundras The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds 0:06:58
Yawning Man I Make Weird Choices Macedonian Lines 0:07:21
Cosmic Fall Lackland Lackland 0:08:32
Lamp of the Universe Rite of the Spheres Align in the Fourth Dimension 0:05:12
SÂVER Dissolve to Ashes They Came with Sunlight 0:07:43
Atala Upon the Altar The Bearer of Light 0:06:06
Magic Circle I’ve Found My Way to Die Departed Souls 0:05:11
BREAK
Mount Saturn Idol Hands Kiss the Ring 0:04:11
Nebula Man’s Best Friend Holy Shit 0:04:56
Ruff Majik Seasoning the Witch Tårn 0:06:31
Earth An Unnatural Carousel Full Upon Her Burning Lips 0:06:51
Ealdor Bealu Smoke Signals Spirit of the Lonely Places 0:07:32
BREAK
Roadsaw Under the Devil’s Thumb Tinnitus the Night 0:03:54
Centrum Sjön För Meditation 0:08:39

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is July 5. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

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Live Review: Desertfest NYC Night Three, 04.28.19

Posted in Reviews on April 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The final day of a festival is always bittersweet, in any context. This being the first Desertfest NYC, it was a time to step back and take stock of the event, the crowd, the proceedings, what worked well, what could be tweaked in the future, and in what ways generally it could grow — because if the Desertfests in Berlin, London and Antwerp are any indication of intent, growth is the idea.

So what about it? The venue worked. The Well is a cool spot, and you almost feel like you’re getting away with something out on that back patio. The tent for the main stage worked. The food worked. The free iced coffee cans from Stumptown Roasters certainly worked for me, if we’re defining “worked” as “kept me upright.” The sound worked. The lights worked for the most part. And the location worked. I got street parking both days, no problem. Mark it a win based on that alone.

The second stage room was intentionally smaller and got to be a squeeze, and with the way the door was, you were either in or out — there was no peaking through to see the band onstage. Not that that’s the ideal way of seeing live music, but it’s better than nothing. It was easy enough to get there early, but I heard people noting it just the same. And it was cold. Yesterday more so than the day before. The sun teased a couple times but wasn’t out for more than about 20 minutes at any point, and then it was night, so it got colder. Rain held off, which was a relief, but there was definitely a flux of people going inside for a bit to get warm before going back out to be in front of the main stage. April in New York. That’s a possibility.

But on the whole, given the crowd size and response, the fact that it ran so well from front to back, and the general spirit of those playing and attending comingling and having a good time, I wouldn’t call it anything but a success. Desertfest is a brand, and they were feeling out a new, tough market in New York, but they pulled it off. I was given a t-shirt and I’ll wear it proudly. I hope they do another.

But holy crap was I tired.

Really, just a mess. Doing a festival is one thing. Doing it not completely removed from the rest of one’s life is quite something else, and I could feel myself showing signs of wear and tear especially early in the day before what little adrenaline my deeply flawed body could produce got to work and got me through. That coffee didn’t hurt either. You’ve made a customer for life, Stumptown. I mean that. I don’t usually even drink iced coffee.

Felt like an earlier start than it was at 3:15PM:

Unearthly Trance

Unearthly Trance (Photo by JJ Koczan)

As sadly will happen, Fatso Jetson canceled their trip east to open the third and final day of Desertfest NYC 2019, and I guess it was something of a scramble, but the fest kind of wound up with the opposite. If Fatso Jetson are desert rock, Unearthly Trance are dystopian-expanse-of-concrete-under-a-dark-grey-sky metal. Local heroes from Brooklyn, their 2017 comebacker full-length, Stalking the Ghost (review here), was followed last year by a split with Relapse labelmates Primitive Man (review here), and the few years they spent apart clearly did not dull their impact or atmospheric breadth. Playing in the tent with the sun outside, they were still unremitting in their darkness, and their slow, churning sonic gruel was served up cold to the early crowd, which was perhaps still bleary-eyed from the night before but primed to get bleary-eyed all over again, in no small part to keep warm. That’s a thing, right? Whatever. Unearthly Trance were loud as fuck and bleaker than they were loud. They’ve always been more of an export than a NY-scene band, at least since about 15 years ago, but they gave Brooklyn a showing of some of its best homegrown, and so could’ve hardly been more fitting for that spot.

Sun Voyager

Sun Voyager (Photo by JJ Koczan)

That’s a good band. They’ve got their kinks and quirks to work out — don’t we all — but the second they realize how much power they actually command from the stage, it’s all over. They’ve got newly-announced tour dates in June that begin in Denver at Electric Funeral Festival and will see them bum around the Midwest for a while, and that’s only going to help. More of that. But already their presence is significant. I haven’t seen them since they released Seismic Vibes (review here), which was a debut I was anticipating to an almost embarrassing degree, so they were an absolute must for my weekend, and hearing them do “Open Road” and “God is Dead,” two of the most potent hooks from among the many boogie-driven brainmelters on the record was more than welcome. They would close with the Budgie cover they just issued digitally, “Crash Course in Brain Surgery,” but their energy was infectious and as I stood there and watched I imagined what it might’ve been like to see Nebula 20-plus years ago when they were just really starting to hit it. It couldn’t have been much different. Sun Voyager are awash in potential now and starting to put the work in to pay that off. I will continue to hope they get there.

Ruby the Hatchet

Ruby the Hatchet (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Forerunners of Philadelphia’s burgeoning heavy psychedelic movement, Ruby the Hatchet brought presence and the chops to back it up in kind to their set outside on the main stage. The Tee Pee rollers were fresh off Grim Reefer Fest in Baltimore on April 20 and were on the West Coast earlier this year supporting 2017’s Planetary Space Child LP (review here), and I’ve seen them live a few times at this point, so to find them locked in wasn’t really a surprise as such. The difference was just what they were able to do in being so locked in. It was a classic heavy rock show. Frontwoman Jillian Taylor led the way through the show, with Johnny “Scarps” Scarperia setting the foundation in riffs somewhere between psychedelic rock and proto-doom, Lake Muir‘s bass and Owen Stewart’s drums pushing the groove forward and the keys — it was quite a setup — of Sean Hur adding texture beyond what one finds in the standard boogie rock of the heavy ’10s. Their next album will say a lot for what the ultimate story of Ruby the Hatchet will be, but their live show left nothing to question about who they are as a band, and the Uriah Heep cover for a finale was a particularly nice choice. Hail heavy prog.

ASG

ASG (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve never been a huge fan of North Carolinian four-piece ASG. Not for lack of respect for the work they do, the time they’ve put in touring, the quality of their records, and so on. Sometimes it just doesn’t click, and I’ll readily acknowledge that’s me and not the band, who obviously weren’t hurting for proponents as they packed out the tent outside at The Well, the chilly air getting chillier and the vibe getting its collective buzz on. I grabbed a can of coffee — honestly, if it had been a bucket, I’d have grabbed that — and watched them for a while and tried to figure out the mental block was stopping me from getting on board. Their 2018 album, Survive Sunrise, was a pick in the Year-End Poll, and I’ve been writing about the band on and off since I saw them in 2011, but everybody else had me beat by far in terms of being into it. My loss, I’ve no doubt. It usually is with that kind of thing. Gave me a chance to go inside and get warm.

Duel

Duel (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Does Duel‘s reputation precede them yet? Maybe, given the fact that the room with the Desertfest NYC second stage was filling up 80 minutes before the Austin, Texas, four-piece were slated to go on. Part of that was wanting to keep warm, but the band were setting up their gear and looked surprised to see the expectant faces staring back at them. Fair enough. Duel have a pair of killer studio records under their collective belt for Heavy Psych Sounds in 2016’s Fears of the Dead (review here) and 2017’s Witchbanger (review here), and they’re about to unleash the third, Valley of Shadows (review here), on a speedy turnaround May 17 and do the bulk of their label’s impending West Coast package tour earlier next month as preparation for heading to Europe for a month on the road there. So yeah, Duel seemed to be in a good place as they came back on stage at their appointed time and destroyed that tiny room in a way that would’ve translated well to the stage outside, playing like a band taking their delivery to the next level and doing their best work to-date on all fronts. They were riotous and a pleasure to watch. It once again got slammed in the small second stage space as they rose to the occasion, and while everyone there may or may not have known what they were in for, they will next time. Duel are very quickly making themselves essential. A do-not-miss reputation won’t, and maybe doesn’t already, hurt.

Monolord

Monolord (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not sure if Monolord‘s new album — which will also mark their jump from RidingEasy Records to Relapse — is done, or if they’re just already touring for it, but the Swedish trio might as well have been flashing a sign from the stage that said, “NOW IS THE HEADLINING PORTION OF THE EVENING.” Indeed, they and Elder who would follow made up the headliner spots and in the case of Monolord, their primeval riffing, ultra-grooving largesse, chemistry boomed like it was in a meth lab and still-just-dudes-who-like-to-play-loud stage presence was already a highlight of the weekend by the time the first song of their set was done. They’re on the road in the US only briefly this time, having done the Psycho Smokeout on the West Coast as well as this, but they’ll be back for sure after a summer spent in Europe. And I don’t know when they’re record’s coming out, but you’d be a fool not to hold a place on your best-of-the-year list for it whenever it actually happens, because if Monolord have proven anything to this point in their career, it’s consistent. Other bands play, Monolord kill. Make the t-shirt with the spoof logo and sell a million of them. You’re welcome.

Green Milk from the Planet Orange

Green Milk from the Planet Orange (Photo by JJ Koczan)

All three members of Tokyo’s Green Milk from the Planet Orange played seated. Or at least for the most part seated, since I don’t think any of them stayed sitting the entire time, up to and including the drummer, but the arrangement gave their set on the second stage a jazzy feel, with their mega-freaked-out astro-prog heavy grind enhancing that mood. A neon green bass was visible even on what all day was the dark side of the stage, and they likewise were a beacon of weirdness in an undulating sea of riffery. A band on their own wavelength aren’t always easy to listen to — and I’d imagine Green Milk from the Planet Orange‘s new record, which they had for sale outside in the merch area, is plenty frenetic — but the trio made the math add up in their sound and were fun even as they dared the crowd to keep up with them. Most couldn’t, frankly, but that’s the nature of the kind of progressivism a band like that taps into. It’s never been and it never will be for everyone. It was awesome to witness, however, and for the technical prowess and the weirdo vibes coming off the stage, they were a highlight unto themselves. You need that sore thumb band sometimes.

Elder

Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Elder are arguably the most forward-thinking band in the current American heavy rock underground. By starting out young, they’ve become the spearhead of a generation of acts, and the work they’ve done throughout this decade is unmatched in its scope and the sheer will toward exploring new ideas. Plus it’s heavy. And plus, it rocks. I mean, there are a lot of krautrock bands out there. They’re in Europe. And the US has its fair share of heavy in various stripes, whether it’s desert rock or psych or doom metal or whatever the hell else we’re on this week, but what Elder tie together with their sound is a signature blend of influences that no one else can match, and their style of songwriting is inimitable. The way their parts interact with each other like Nick DiSalvo, Michael Risberg, Jack Donovan and Matt Couto have a musical conversation on stage. The way they’re able to build tension subtly and find just the right moment to swap out trajectories and head someplace else. It’s brilliant in the very real sense of luminosity. They are important, yes, because their influence will continue to spread, but they’re also incredible just to stand back and watch play. Every bit the headliner at this stage in their career, and I suspect they will remain that way for as long as they choose to do so. This is a special band doing special work on their own terms. Long may they reign.

Mick’s Jaguar

Mick's Jaguar (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not going to pretend I had it in me to stand there for the entire Mick’s Jaguar set. I didn’t have it in me to stand there for the entire Elder set — I had to go sit inside for a couple minutes at one point or another — but I’d seen every band on all three days of Desertfest NY, so you’re damn right I stuck around and waited for them to go on. I love how New York’s version of party rock is still just a little mean. It’s the punk lineage, or at least the spirit of that culture, because even when a band like Mick’s Jaguar come out on the second stage and start tearing into songs from 2018’s Fame and Fortune (review here), there’s still a little edge of “fuck you” to the good time they’re having. Like they’re saying, “fuck you we’re fun.” And they were a blast. It was late and dark in the room, but a lot of people had gone home after Elder, so Mick’s Jaguar were kind of the pre-after-party for the after-party happening after the show. I knew vaguely what to expect going into the set, but as tired as I was and as much as I still had that hour drive home ahead of me, I knew staying for one more song was the right way to go, and hey, no regrets.

The actual after-party was being held at The Anchored Inn around the corner. I said goodbyes at the venue and farted my way over there for a couple minutes to see how the cool kids live. They live boozy. I tried not to put my backpack in anyone’s face, failed, and then once again took my leave. Maybe I hadn’t been ready after all for Desertfest NY to end. Maybe I was delaying that drive home.

Either way, the toll would be paid this morning. Got to bed before 1AM, but the alarm went off at 5:50AM to get up, pack the car and drive back to Massachusetts so The Patient Mrs. could go to work. It had been traffic all weekend, so I should’ve expected no different. Left at 7:30AM, got in at 1:30PM. Stops for diaper-change, gas, etc., but yeah. Still six hours for a trip that’s ideally not much over four.

That had me pretty much comatose for the afternoon, but I started this review during the baby’s nap and I’m finishing it now after he’s gone to bed. I’m falling asleep while I type and I still need to sort pictures, so I’ll leave it here, but before I go, heartfelt congratulations to Matte Vandeven and Reece Tee on a job well done, and thanks to them, Sarika, Jake and everyone else involved in the festival crew for having me along for it. I felt welcomed in a way that warmed my heart and set the tone for the entire experience. It was much, much appreciated. Here’s to the next one.

More pics after the jump:

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Review & Video Premiere: Duel, Valley of Shadows

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

duel valley of shadows

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Duel’s video for ‘Black Magic Summer’ from Valley of Shadows. Album is out May 17 on Heavy Psych Sounds. European tour dates here.]

There’s been nothing to dull the momentum Duel have built since the release of their first album, Fears of the Dead (review here), just over three years ago in 2016, and as much as their third LP for Heavy Psych Sounds, Valley of Shadows, might feel like an arrival point, it’s entirely possible it’s just another forward step in an ongoing series thereof. Through considerable touring in North America and Europe, the Austin, Texas, four-piece have worked to earn a reputation and as songwriters. Their sophomore full-length, 2017’s Witchbanger (review here), was a marked step forward from the debut, and the eight tracks/37 minutes of Valley of Shadows follow suit, with a less-rushed feel and a burgeoning attention to detail in songwriting, as well as a more dynamic overall approach that moves Duel further from the ’70s-ism of their beginnings and further toward their own sound.

A 2018 live album, Live at the Electric Church (review here), was a duly admirable showcase of energy, and Valley of Shadows brings that sense of performance to bear as well, but the context in which it does has shifted, as opener “Black Magic Summer” sets a tone not of riotousness, but of a more complex and mood-aware craft. Vocalist/guitarist Tom Frank maintains a characteristic approach with backing by guitarist/engineer Jeff Hensen and bassist Shaun Avants, and Valley of Shadows marks the first appearance of drummer Justin Collins. It would be a stretch to place a shift in sound or style solely at the feet of any single lineup change, and rather, as cuts like “Red Moon Forming” and “Strike and Disappear” play out across the album’s A side, the case seems to be simply one of Duel maturing as a band. If it seems like that’s happening quickly — the debut was three years ago, remember — it is, but one might consider the accelerant of the work they’ve put in on tour and in the studio and the continued urgency of their creativity.

At least part of Valley of Shadows seems to be directly related to processing the last three years’ efforts, as though their time in the studio was a chance to catch their breath and look back. “Black Magic Summer” could easily be a touring song, and likewise “Drifting Alone,” “Strike and Disappear,” “Tyrant on the Throne” and “I Feel No Pain.” And even if that’s not a running theme couched in metaphors of northern moons and autocratic rule, the contemplative, slower Thin Lizzy pace of the opener lends itself to a particular wistfulness, and even as the steady kick drum of “Red Moon Forming” shoves the listener through the track’s four minutes accompanied by a run of dual-guitars and one of the record’s most potent hooks, that more considered vibe holds sway. The arrangement of backing vocals in “Red Moon Forming,” or the subtle changes in guitar and bass in the verse and the careening feel into the chorus, the layering of solos: it all speaks to Duel not only putting more time into making Valley of Shadows — which I don’t know that they did — but being unafraid of going wherever they need to in order to best serve the song.

duel

Unsurprisingly, “Drifting Alone” carries a melancholy feel, but still picks up for an engaging chorus peppered with backing vocals and a solo deeper in the mix. A bit of effects after the midsection and hints toward vocal harmony across channels lead to the payoff and a cold finish, bringing on “Strike and Disappear,” an album highlight that sets the most sentimental-sounding movement of Valley of Shadows directly against a Motörhead-inspired thrust that consumes the track’s second half in commanding fashion with a forward kick in energy that portends what follows on side B when “Broken Mirror” gets rolling. “Strike and Disappear” is excellently placed after “Drifting Alone,” as Duel have already by then established what seem to be the rules of the album in terms of how far they’ll go either way in terms of mood, and then essentially they shatter those rules by pushing to new limits on both sides. So it goes with the album as a whole in relation to their past work.

“Broken Mirror” taps proto-thrash riffing and is even shorter than its 4:04 runtime implies, cutting off at 3:43 to a kind of echoing and manipulated laughter as a leadout/intro to “Tyrant on the Throne,” which immediately casts its victory in soaring leads and a charging riff. Sure to be a highlight live, it nonetheless carries a studio-born nuance in intertwining guitars and vocal lines, married to a confidence of presentation that makes the whole thing not just believable, but able to bring the audience up to its level. That is, it is executed without posturing and the triumph it conveys is earned and all the more satisfying because of that. More residual hum transitions into the volume trades of “I Feel No Pain,” with its subdued verses and explosive chorus and bridge working to tie the ups and downs of Valley of Shadows together ahead of the stage-ready blowout of “The Bleeding Heart,” which is the longest track at 5:55, but fades out approaching its fifth minute as a wash of keys makes its way in and ultimately serves as the band’s closing statement.

Does it portend things still to come? More to say on the part of the band? Is it an atmospheric expression of the quiet when the show is over? Was it just a sound they made in the studio and thought might work to sneak in at the end of the vinyl? No clue, but even after the fade of “The Bleeding Heart,” it serves as a way of bringing the listener back to reality once the album has finished, and whether or not that was the intent at its inclusion, it is one more way in which Valley of Shadows feels complete in its execution from front to back. Duel have been on a tear since the outset, but they surpass even the lofty expectations they’ve amassed here, and the question that remains is how much farther they’ll continue to push and where that might lead them sound-wise in the longer term. That of course will be seen over time, but even that the question has moved to what they’ll do over “the longer term” is indicative of the staying power so evident in their work. Valley of Shadows sounds like the work of a band here to stay.

Duel on Thee Facebooks

Duel on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

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Duel Announce European Tour Supporting Valley of Shadows

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

duel

Pretty easy argument to make that Duel‘s Valley of Shadows is among the most anticipated heavy rock albums of the Spring. It’ll be the third full-length on Heavy Psych Sounds for the Austin, Texas, four-piece, and though a European tour was long suspected for their having been announced as taking part at Freak Valley 2019, the extensive nature of that tour, now unveiled in its entirety, is nonetheless significant. They’ll spend a month-solid on the road overseas, and in addition to Freak Valley, they’re set for Black Deer Fest in London and Freaking Out Fest in Munich, which is a new one to me. Curious, that is, but the point is that Duel will cover a good amount of ground throughout June and into July as they go and hit some fests along the way. There are still a couple dates TBA, but even so, it looks like a packed tour. Good thing Duel kick ass live.

Shows came down the PR wire:

duel tour poster

*** DUEL – VALLEY OF SHADOWS EUROPEAN TOUR 2019 ***

Dealing their own brand of dark boogie, the band has earned a reputation with their beer soaked high energy live performances, relentless touring, writing and recording schedule. Since 2016 DUEL has released 3 albums with their 4th LP Valley of Shadows set to be released via Heavy Psych Sounds Records on May 17th of 2019.

DUEL is about to embark on their sixth extensive European tour once again hitting many of the major festivals that they have in the past, Desert Fest, Freak Valley, Stick and Stone, Black Deer Fest in the UK and many more. The band has also stayed extremely busy at home in the United States will 2 full tours last year hitting many of the Stoner Doom festivals with many more to come in 2019.

DUEL – VALLEY OF SHADOWS EUROPEAN TOUR 2019
06.06.2019 IT Roma-Traffic
07.06.2019 IT Parma-Splinter
08.06.2019 IT Alessandria-Cascina Bellaria
09.06.2019 FR Lyon-Le Farmer
10.06.2019 FR Chambery-Le Brin De Zinc
11.06.2019 DE Basel-Loch or Freisitz
12.06.2019 DE Tubingen-Hausbar neben der Sitiftskirche
13.06.2019 DE Augsburg-City Club
14.06.2019 CH Winterthur-Gaswerk
15.06.2019 CH Oberentfelden-Borom Pom Pom
16.06.2019 BE Zottegem-Kaffee Maboel
17.06.2019 UK Bristol-The Old England
18.06.2019 UK TBA
19.06.2019 UK TBA
20.06.2019 DE Siegen-Freak Valley Festival
21.06.2019 UK London-Black Deer Fest
22.06.2019 DE Munich-Freaking Out Fest
23.06.2019 DE TBA
24.06.2019 DE Dresden-Ostpol
25.06.2019 DE Berlin-Toast Hawaii
26.06.2019 DE Leipzig-Black Label
27.06.2019 DE Mannheim-7er
28.06.2019 FR Bourlon-Rock Im Bourlon
29.06.2019 FR TBA
01.07.2019 FR Tuluse-Usine a Musique
02.07.2019 FR Nantes-La Scene Michelet
04.07.2019 IT Torino-Blah Blah
05.07.2019 AT Nikolsdorf-Stick&Stone
06.07.2019 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse
07.07.2019 IT Castel D’Ario-Hostaria

DUEL is:
Tom Frank – Vocals / Guitar
Jeff Henson – Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals
Shaun Avants – Bass / Backing Vocals
Justin Collins – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/DUELTEXAS/
https://duel3.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/

Duel, Witchbanger (2017)

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Heavy Psych Sounds Fest USA Tour Announced with Red Fang, Yawning Man, Mothership, Fatso Jetson, Wo Fat, Duel and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

heavy psych sounds logo

I should’ve seen this one coming when Heavy Psych Sounds announced multiple venues for its Heavy Psych Sounds Fest this month in Europe — was it this weekend? — playing in three different cities with a changing lineup. Should’ve guessed this was going to be the direction it took. Even if I did though, I don’t think I’d have called a lineup badass enough to bring together Duel, Fatso JetsonNebulaGreenbeardHeavy TempleMothership and The Freeks. Among others. Heavy Psych Sounds has become a powerhouse in Europe, promoting bands through the label, booking tours, hosting its fest, whatever it might be. A US package tour under the banner of Heavy Psych Sounds Fest isn’t a small step, but it’s a natural one for an imprint that’s doing such crucial work.

I hope it all goes off without a hitch and they do it on the regular.

From the PR wire:

heavy psych sounds fest usa tour

Red Fang, Yawning Man, Mothership and more team up for inaugural HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST tour in the United States!

Influential heavy rock label HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS expands its sphere into North America, with live shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas and Austin.

Respected underground rock record label Heavy Psych Sounds is proud to announce the inaugural U.S. iteration of its ‘Heavy Psych Sounds Fest’ series. Set to kick off this May in Los Angeles (May 3), San Francisco (May 4-5), Dallas (May 10) and Austin, TX (May 11), the label tour will feature four separate mini-festivals in the four cities, each spotlighting an exclusive selection of Heavy Psych Sounds’ blue-chip roster, including live sets from trailblazing acts Fatso Jetson, Nebula and Yawning Man, as well as special guests Red Fang and more.

Headquartered in Rome, Italy, Heavy Psych Sounds specializes in presenting the best artists in the global heavy psych, doom, fuzz blues and space rock realms, and the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest series will be no exception, spotlighting the ever-growing label’s dedication to its craft. While the first HPS fests were held in Italy, the label has since extended its live reach into the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands with festivals in those territories. Now, Heavy Psych Sounds is set to bring the ROCK to the U.S. with the just-announced special shows. Each stop of the traveling festival tour will feature diverse lineups including both genre leaders and fast-rising acts, all ready to prove their place among the world’s best.

“Being able to finally launch the U.S. version of Heavy Psych Sounds Fest is a dream true,”says label owner Gabriele Fiori. “We’ve been working for a long time to properly break into the U.S. market and this is a clear sign that the hard work is paying off. We have so many great U.S. based bands on our roster that we needed this to happen for all of us. This tour run is a celebration of our growing U.S. presence, which we hope will keep continue to grow. We’re also very happy to have Red Fang as guests, headlining in two of the cities. We hope music fans will come out, support and enjoy these very special shows!”

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST U.S. tour dates:

May 3 – Los Angeles, CA at The House of Machines
Red Fang (special guest) + Nebula + Yawning Man + Duel + Fatso Jetson + House Of Broken Promises

May 4 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Red Fang (special guest) + Yawning Man + Duel + The Freeks + Glitter Wizard

May 5 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Nebula + Hot Lunch + Fatso Jetson + Banquet + Turn Me On Dead Man

May 10 – Dallas, TX at Lola’s
Mothership + Duel + Ecstatic Vision + Crypt Trip + Wo Fat + Heavy Temple

May 11 – Austin, TX at The Lost Well
Duel + Ecstatic Vision + Mothership + Crypt Trip + Greenbeard + Wo Fat + Heavy Temple

Tickets for the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest shows in Los Angeles, Dallas and Austin are on sale now.
Tickets for the San Francisco HPS event will go on sale February 28.

https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

Nebula, “Giant” live at SonicBlast Moledo 2018

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Duel Announce New Album Valley of Shadows Due May 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I give Duel immediate points here for not calling their new album Witchbanger 2. Really, there was no way the Austin-based heavy rockers weren’t putting out an album this year. They just have too much going on, having already been confirmed for such geographically diverse events as Monolith of the Mesa in New Mexico, Freak Valley in Germany, Black Deer Fest in London, Desertfest New York and SXSW in their hometown. That’s an awfully busy Spring to not coincide with a new release, and sure enough, the forthcoming Valley of Shadows will see issue on May 17 — preorders Feb. 27 — as the follow-up to 2016’s Fears of the Dead (review here) and 2017’s Witchbanger (review here), as well as last year’s live outing, Live at the Electric Church (review here), that only seemed to cement the reputation as a stage act that is beginning to precede them. Happy to report that, having been fortunate enough to catch them at last year’s Maryland Doom Fest (review here), indeed, that reputation is being well earned.

Expect to hear a lot about these guys this year. They’ve got excellent momentum coming into this release, and especially as they’re recording themselves, they seem all the more primed to really let loose with something special. I’m stoked to find out.

From the PR wire:

duel valley of shadows

DUEL – VALLEY OF SHADOWS – cover & details

Heavy Psych Sounds Records is proud to reveal the first and hotly anticipated details of DUEL’s forthcoming album VALLEY OF SHADOWS !!!

RELEASE DATE:
MAY 17th

PRESALE STARTS:
FEBRUARY 27th

The Texas occult rockers conjure up another heavy dose of tripped out old school doom metal with their third full length, Valley of Shadows, set to be released May 17th. More blood splattered tales of black magic, sex, ancient curses and devils on the streets, with eight epic and infectious rippers showing a wider range of the bands song writing abilities from psychedelic heavy metal anthems to Thin Lizzy esque dueling guitars to full blast Motorhead shredding! Their deepest cuts yet recorded over a period of winter months by DUEL guitarist Jeff Henson at the infamous Red Nova Ranch studio, located in the desert wastelands of Texas just outside of Austin. Mastered by Alberto de Icaza, Valley of Shadows leads us into an all night smoked out, mushroom fueled sessions with each tune. What could be the bands best collaboration to date, a rock solid album from start to finish!

GATEFOLD SLEEVE VINYLS AVAILABLE IN:
40 ULTRA LTD TEST PRESS VINYL
250 ULTRA LTD BABY BLUE VINYL
500 LTD RED TRANSPARENT – SPLATTER BLACK/BLUE/WHITE/YELLOW
BLACK VINYL
DIGIPAK
DIGITAL

TRACKLIST
1. Black magic summer
2. Red moon forming
3. Drifting alone
4. Strike and Disappear
5. Broken Mirror
6. Tyrant on the throne
7. I feel no pain
8. The bleeding heart

DUEL is:
Tom Frank – Vocals / Guitar
Jeff Henson – Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals
Shaun Avants – Bass / Backing Vocals
Justin Collins – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/DUELTEXAS/
https://duel3.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/

Duel, Witchbanger (2017)

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Brant Bjork, Groundhogs, Child, Yawning Man and More Playing Black Deer Festival in London

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

black deer desertscene banner

Desertscene in London — the same good people who put together Desertfest there and have worked to bring it to New York as well — have paired up with the country/Americana/blues Black Deer Festival to present a stage called The Roadhouse that’ll have custom motorcycles hanging around, camping and a lineup that’s pretty kickass front to back. It’s not exactly like they’re sneaking into the bill, but you’ve got Yawning ManAsteroidBrant Bjork and Groundhogs and King Buffalo and Radio Moscow and Duel and Steak and Child and so on bringing their wares to Edridge Park in Kent and it seems to me you could do a hell of a lot worse than kind of having a mini-Desertfest built into another festival. That’s how you reach a broader audience, by playing for people who maybe haven’t already heard you. Seems likely a few heads will be turned across the three-day event.

The PR wire has info:

black deer fest poster

BLACK DEER FESTIVAL REVEAL MORE NAMES FOR 2019

Another round of carefully curated names have been added to the Black Deer Festival lineup today, making for an impressive second year for the award-winning new event. The three-day celebration of Americana and Country, set in the beautiful Eridge Park in Kent, presents a unique experience combining music, food and Americana culture that can’t be found anywhere else in the UK.

Brant Bjork, the member of two of the most influential 90’s stoner rock bands Kyuss and Fu Manchu, whose desert rock and roots style will resonate from The Roadhouse stage in June. Brant Bjork joins the all American heavy blues contingent of previously announced Left Lane Cruiser, Radio Moscow and The Roadhouse ‘house band’ Steak – all curated by Desertscene for Black Deer.

Completing today’s line up is British blues rock band Groundhogs, who are best known for their 70’s single Cherry Red – a name adopted by one of Britain’s longest standing independent record labels – as well as heavy psych-blues trio King Buffalo, Australian blues-rockers Child, 60’s psychedelic songwriter Roxanne De Bastion, California’s experimental rockers Yawning Man, Country preacher Paul Cauthen, larger than life boatman and bluesman Sonic Gypsy and Hertfordshire’s rock band Redwood.

ARTISTS ANNOUNCED TO DATE (A-Z)
Asteroid, Band of Horses, Brant Bjork, Chance McCoy, Child, Daniel Antopolsky, Duel, Fantastic Negrito, Ferris & Sylvester, Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, Groundhogs, Hayseed Dixie, Irish Mythen, Jerron Blind Boy Paxton, John Butler Trio, John Smith, Justin Townes Earle, King Buffalo, Kris Kristofferson & The Strangers, Larkin Poe, Left Lane Cruiser, Lucero, Martin Harley, Morganway, Mountains, Neko Case, Paul Cauthen, Radio Moscow, Redwood, Roxanne De Bastion, Ryan Bingham, Sonic Gypsy, Steak, Stubb, The Black Wizards, The Dead South, The Marcus King Band, The Mavericks, The Sheepdogs, The Staves, The Vintage Caravan, The Wandering Hearts, The Trials of Cato, William Crighton, Worry Dolls, Yawning Man.

TICKET INFORMATION
Tier 1 tickets on sale now and are available from https://blackdeerfestival.com/tickets/
Ticket prices from £105 – subject to booking fees.

Tier 2 tickets will be on sale from 26th February.

https://www.facebook.com/events/342379713221524/
https://facebook.com/blackdeerfest
https://www.instagram.com/blackdeerfest/
https://blackdeerfestival.com/tickets/

King Buffalo, “Longing to be the Mountain” live in Philadelphia, Nov. 3, 2018

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Freak Valley 2019: God is an Astronaut, Monolord, King Buffalo, Stonefield, Duel and Pretty Lightning Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

freak valley 2019 banner

Once again, Freak Valley 2019 adds a righteous swath of bands to its lineup for this June, and once again, I had the pleasure of writing the announcement. It’s shaping up to be a huge bill, and from YOB and C.O.C. marking 25 years of Deliverance to Slomatics heralding their next release and It’s Not Night: It’s Space making an awaited European debut, it’s a wide swath of heavy from Europe and the US and to be frank, it looks pretty unbelievable. Imagine seeing Spaceslug and King Buffalo on the same lineup. Woof. Or Arc of Ascent and Electric Moon? The heart breaks at the thought.

I’d go on about the bands added this time — what with the Monolord and the God is an Astronaut and the Stonefield and whatnot — but again, I wrote the announcement below, so I’ve kind of already done that. To do so again feels a little redundant.

Freak Valley posted word thusly:

freak valley 2019 poster

FREAK VALLEY 2019 – GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT | MONOLORD | KING BUFFALO | STONEFIELD | DUEL | PRETTY LIGHTNING

Freaks, Assemble!

Gather ‘round the fires burning the dystopian fuel of your bygone expectations bear witness to another massive Freak Valley Festival 2019 lineup announcement! It. Is. Substantial. And we are accordingly substantially thrilled to bring to it to you.

First, it is with regret we inform you that Harsh Toke won’t be joining us this year. These things happen. However, the party must go on, so join us as we welcome God Is An Astronaut, Monolord, King Buffalo, Stonefield, DUEL, and Pretty Lightning to FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL 2019!

You know who these bands are, but just for fun, let’s go through, shall we?

GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT

More than 15 years on from getting their start, Irish instrumentalists God is an Astronaut seamlessly blend heavy post-rock and psychedelic soundscapes to an evocative degree that is all their own. In 2018, the band released ‘Epitaph,’ which was somewhat ironically titled given the vital spirit of its creativity but nonetheless carried a melancholic feel, wistful even in its most colorful moments. This is a band we love and we know that they’re going to be something truly special for Freak Valley 2019. We can’t tell you enough: Don’t miss them.

MONOLORD

Sweden’s reigning kingpins of tectonic riffery come to FVF on the heels of ‘Rust,’ their third and most expansive offering to-date. It’s hard to believe it was only six years ago they made their debut, but in the time since, they’ve toured relentlessly across Europe and the US and have left nothing but destruction in their wake. As their influence begins to spread, Monolord only continue to look forward, and while they prepare to move on to next work, they’ll bring their inimitable groove to once more affirm the righteousness of their riff worship.

KING BUFFALO

Working with producer Ben McLeod from All Them Witches, last year King Buffalo released their second album, ‘Longing to Be the Mountain,’ and indeed, they became it. They may hail from the cold reaches of upstate New York, but King Buffalo’s sound is warm and inviting and made all the more distinct by a level of craft that is their own. Their songs are spacious and tripped out with chemistry-driven jams, but they never seem to get lost either. At least not more than they want to. We’re happy their path will lead them to Freak Valley this year.

STONEFIELD

The Findlay Family Band comes to Netphen! Melbourne’s Stonefield is comprised of sisters Amy, Sarah, Holly and Hannah Findlay, and their take on classic psychedelia is peppered with right-on fuzz, a penchant for memorable melody, and just a bit of synthy weirdness that made their 2018 album, ‘Far From Earth,’ as dance-ready as it was nod-out. Get blissed as Stonefield come to Freak Valley for the first time and change all our heads in the process. Can’t wait. Also, no one really calls them the “Findlay Family Band,” so don’t do that.

DUEL

Duel have been doing their bit to “Keep Austin Weird” — as the bumper stickers say — for the better part of the last half-decade, putting out their debut ‘Fears of the Dead’ in 2016 and following it up with ‘Witchbanger’ the last year. They’ve put their noses to the tablesaw of touring ever since and we gladly open our doors, arms and hearts to welcome their acid-laced boogie intensity to Freak Valley. And their records are killer, no doubt about it, but live they absolutely bring it to another level. You’ll be buying a t-shirt, make no mistake.

PRETTY LIGHTNING

Far be it from us to tell you how to live your life or anything, but if you haven’t go hit up Bandcamp at some point today and take a listen to Pretty Lightning’s ‘The Rhythm of Ooze.’ The Saarbrücken duo released the LP in 2017 and used it to envision a psych-honed Delta blues vibe as much of the earth as it was stretched out on some cosmic ether. Soul music for those bound for the center of the galaxy. And once you take the time to listen, we won’t need to tell you to see them at Freak Valley. You’ll just know it’s where you have to be.

Line-up 2019:
Wolfmother, Corrosion Of Conformity, Brant Bjork, Yob, God Is An Astronaut, The Obsessed Official, Monolord, The Vintage Caravan, Electric Moon, King Buffalo, Minami Deutsch, Pristine, Stonefield, It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Spaceslug, Arc of Ascent, DUEL, The Fierce & The Dead, Pretty Lightning, Dead Lord

Freak Valley Festival 2019 // No Fillers – Just Killers

Your Rock Freaks love you

www.freakvalley.de
https://www.facebook.com/freakvalley
https://www.facebook.com/events/299339670806919/
https://twitter.com/FreakValley

Stonefield, Far From Earth (2018)

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