Earthless Announce April US Tour Dates with Minami Deutsch

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Cali instrumental burners Earthless have bounced hither and yon doing the album-cycle thing since they put out 2022’s Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (review here) — also for about two decades before that — touring as veterans and a band at the forefront of underground heavy consciousness. I saw them twice last year, at Freak Valley and at SonicBlast Fest, and both times their presence on stage had a veteran’s comfort and professionalism. You ever watch a band and think to yourself, “Wow, I bet these guys could just do this until they’re like 90, huh?” Well, I feel like if they wanted to, that could be Earthless.

Part of that is because they’re so much on their own level in terms of approach. They’ve established a fanbase and built it organically, and their influence only continues to spread — if you count the fact that they’re about to introduce their US audience to Japanese mellow-psych purveyors Minami Deutsch, that influence carries even more dimension — but watching the trio of guitarist/occasional vocalist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba on stage, they look sustainable in a way that many bands, even after 20-odd years, never get to be. It’s not about being settled, or compromising, but about finding your place in sound and making it your life. It’s an admirable thing.

They dig into New England on this run, so if you’re in Maine or Vermont or Boston, heads up as I know not all tours hit north of NYC these days. The occasion is Austin Psych Fest on April 27, and the tour starts April 10 in St. Louis, as announced on social media:

Earthless tour


So stoked to share that we will be trottin’ over to the Midwest, the East Coast and then down South this April! Minami Deutsch / 南ドイツ, an amazing band from Japan that you definitely do not want to miss, is comin’ along with us as well! Tix available at 10 am local time today: 🤯🛸🤘🏽🎸⏰

With special guest Minami Deutsch

April 10 – St. Louis at OFF BROADWAY MUSIC VENUE **
April 11 – Milwaukee at Club Garibaldi’s
April 12 – Chicago IL at Empty Bottle
April 13 – Chicago IL at Empty Bottle
April 14 – Detroit MI at El Club
April 15 – Cleveland OH at The Beachland Ballroom and Tavern
April 17 – Somerville MA at Arts at the Armory
April 18 – Portland ME at Oxbow Brewing Company
April 19 – Brattleboro VT at The Stone Church
April 20 – Brooklyn NY at Elsewhere
April 21 – Philadelphia PA at Underground Arts
April 22 – Washington DC at Black Cat DC
April 24 – Atlanta GA at The EARL
April 25 – Birmingham AL at Saturn Birmingham

**without Minami Deutsch

Flyer by Branca Studio 🔥💀🔥

Isaiah Mitchell – Guitar & Vocals
Mike Eginton – Bass
Mario Rubalcaba – Drums

Earthless, Night Parade of 100 Demons (2022)

Minami Deutsch, Fortune Goodies (2022)

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Dispatch from SonicBlast 2023: Day Three

Posted in Features, Reviews on August 13th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

SonicBlast Fest 2023 day 3 sq

08.12.23 – Sat. – Fest site

Before show

Found a shady spot and got here in time to catch some of Earthless’ soundcheck. The haze of yesterday and mist/rain of last night have been replaced by a bit of wind and blue skies clear enough to see neighborhoods on Mars. It is a little cooler than yesterday, about which I will not complain. If it holds till tonight, I’ll be glad I have my wizard flannel.

To get here today I took the beach route, rather than going by the river as Church of the Cosmic Skull once advised, and the waves looked like something off a wall calendar. They sell shirts here that say “beach and riffs,” and I’ll tip myThe beach in Portugal goofy wide-brimmed hat to whoever decided to roll that out. Marketing making the world go around.

I’ve done a fair amount of writing the last couple days, which has felt good, seen wonderful people and heard great music at consuming volumes, which as far as I’m concerned is the stuff of life. Traveling alone can feel weird sometimes — like anything — but the truth is that once I get where I’m going, I’m never alone except when I want to be, to work or sleep, and so on. It’s been busy, and I think it’ll be a few days home before I really process any of it beyond the initial impressions conveyed in the notes I’ve been taking as it’s taken place — check in Friday — but I feel good about the work and the experience, and I’m glad I came.

This is the last day, and I expect by six or The main stages at SonicBlast 2023seven this evening my head will start to move back into travel-mode thinking about getting on the plane tomorrow — the airport in Porto is beautiful, as it would invariably be — and I don’t know if I’ll get to write again before I’m back in the US. Accordingly, thank you again to Ricardo, Thelma and all here at SonicBlast. I have been treated better than I probably needed to be, and am on awe of the passion and drive that has built this festival up to what it is over the last 11 years. As I listen to Kanaan line-checking before they open the day on the third stage — that’s four-for-four on kickoffs, if you’re keeping score — and look over the now-empty-but-soon-to-be-slammed main stage(s) area, it’s a little surreal, but as realities go, I’m happy to dwell in it while I can. Thank you for reading. Thanks to the bands and everyone I’ve spoken to or hung out with. Thanks to my family and obviously, thanks to Wendy, through whom all things are possible.

Getting close now. I can feel it. Here’s the day:


Kanaan (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Noting from the stage that it was their first time in Portugal, Norwegian instrumentalist trio Kanaan did not look back after a 15-or-so-minute delayed start owing to a fence blowing over outside as doors were supposed to open. So yes, the wind is a factor. Or at least it was until they put the fence back up and Kanaan came out to lock into the hypnojazz of “Downpour” from the 2022 album of the same name (review here), bass, guitar and drums coming together, seeming to each split its own direction, meeting up later on as one might with friends, only with riffs instead. This was my second time seeing them. The first was Høstsabbat last Fall in Oslo, which is about as different a setting as you can get from SonicBlast, and it’s to the band’s credit that their sound holds up to either context. Maybe it was the sun, or the wind, or the last-day blues, but the spacey, patient unfolding of “Pink Riff” felt extra resonant, as did the synth-laced fuzz that followed to underscore the upward launch in progress. Working against gravity, they rode that groove for a while and did a few orbital laps in circles and twists of rhythm, and resolved in a noisy freakout before coalescing again around the guitar, but the message was clear and the controls were set to ‘far out.’ If they were bummed at cutting their set short, they didn’t show it as they finished with “Return to the Tundrasphere,” having saved the thickest nod for last. Right on. I’ll take seeing them at any opportunity. Wound up chatting with them later on and let it spill that I thought they were onto something really special and they talked about some of their plans for future records. This is a band with the potential to be very good for a long time. A band that can grow with its players. Fingers crossed.

Black Rainbows

Black Rainbows (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Space hippies of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your dayjobs! I’d been looking forward to Black Rainbows, as they always seem to find a line between more straightforward heavy rock, classic cosmodelia, and hooks, hooks, hooks, and wouldn’t you know, that’s precisely what they delivered to open the main stage. They covered MC5’s “Black to Comm” and gave it due urgency, and with their new album, Superskull (review here), relatively fresh in mind, I dug the crap out of it. I think they get overshadowed in a weird way by the work founding guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori does in running the Heavy Psych Sounds label/booking company, but god damn, if you actually listen to their records, they’re spot on heavy psych rock, taking some of the energy and enthusiasm that I forever associate with the Italian underground and making it theirs through performance and a strong stylistic foundation. I dig this band, is what I’m saying. If you haven’t been introduced, hit up the latest album and work your way back to the desert idolatry of their earliest stuff and I sincerely doubt you’ll regret it. They’re like a one-stop shop for everything you could ask modern stoner rock to be, while also being able to occasionally blow it out or loose a riff like “Grindstone,” and hold another level of thrust in reserve for a multi-tiered finish. First band on the big stage and people were already dancing. This place is amazing, this band way undervalued.

Spirit Mother

Spirit Mother (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The only reason I wasn’t absolutely blindsided by how heavy Sprit Mother’s thud landed in-person was because of being fortunate enough to premiere their “Dead Cells/Locust” two-songer last month. Both those songs were aired, and it was likewise a pleasure to hear their rawer, more all-in sensibility extended to tracks from their 2020 debut, Cadets (review here). They played as a double-guitar, double-violin five-piece. One violin? Well that’s interesting. Outside the heavy norm. Respect to that, especially since the songs are good. Two? That’s downright individual. Maybe by their fourth record they’ll be doling out fuzz accompanied by a string quartet — and I’m not trying to be a smartass; I think that’d rule — but the takeaway is that the Los Angeles band are growing. Growing heavier, growing in depth and texture, and looking for ways to distinguish themselves. They’re on their way. This tour and the upcoming US run with Hippie Death Cult will help, but there’s nothing they should be doing that they’re not already doing. I’ll look forward to remembering seeing them here for the first time, including that laugh shared by the band and the front row when guitarist/vocalist Armand Lance attempted to throw his bandana out to the crowd but it hit a wall of wind and didn’t travel more than a meter before landing unceremoniously in the photo pit. Sometimes it’s the little things.


Earthless (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s safe by now to call Earthless legends, right? A fully-earned reputation two decades running that precedes them by miles, the quintessential heavy trio released Night Parade of 100 Demons (review here) in January, and even though I knew what was coming, it was hard not to feel physically overwhelmed as they built up the characteristically extended, vinyl-side-consuming title-track to its full breadth. And I saw them like a month and a half ago. Shit, I heard their soundcheck today! Nonetheless, when guitarist/sometimes-vocalist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba dug in, you had no real choice but to bodily sense it. Sure, it’s been loud all weekend, but with Earthless it’s never quite just about any one thing — even Mitchell’s guitar, which feels like sacrilege to say somehow — but about the full combination of all of it working at a scale that belongs solely to the band. Maybe that’s how you get to be legendary to start with. There’s just something intangible there, and as much as it feels like they’re plunging headfirst into the unknown, you always know that they’re in control, hand-on-the-wheel, and so forth. As spacey as they got at SonicBlast, that was still true, and while I’m not so far removed from my last exposure, it’s a testament to the power of what they do that they could be so affecting. Rest assured, I went back after refilling my water bottle and taking a minute to write this, in more than enough time to catch the burner ending, the next outbound excursion, and the staple cover of The Groundhogs’ “Cherry Red” that capped the set.

A Place to Bury Strangers

A Place to Bury Strangers (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Today I learned that the dude from A Place to Bury Strangers — multi-instrumentalist/live guitarist and vocalist Oliver Ackermann — really hates his guitar. Before the first song was done, he’d launched it in the air multiple times and let it hit the stage, swung it over his shoulder like he was trying to split wood, and run the strings along the front edge of the stage. Then he tuned up, which I think might’ve been my favorite part. I haven’t seen them before, but by all accounts that’s kind of how it goes. Not arguing. True to their New York roots, their sound is a kind of no-wave indie noise punk, but without atmosphere, but trying to crawl out of its own skin anyhow. Restless movement in the bass of John Fedowitz and drummer Sandra Fedowitz was fitting company for all that fucked up amp-noise wash, and I don’t know if Thurston Moore is still hanging around today — let’s figure probably not, but you never know — but it’s easy to imagine him smiling, wherever he may be. Intermittently caustic, light on accessibility and thick on fuckall, they sounded the way my brain feels when I think about the climate crisis, and soon enough, Ackermann left the stage to bring the shenanigans directly to the people out front, but he and maybe Sandra (?) got back up eventually and hit it on the next song, leaving half the crowd slackjawed and a whole other portion smiling knowingly. I guess they’re not really my thing sound-wise, otherwise I might have driven into NYC from Jersey to see them at some point in the last 20 years, but you have to appreciate the expression and the sheer physical effort in it. And the fact that they played after Earthless. I’m glad nobody got hurt, with the exception of that guitar, which, admirably, somehow made it through the whole set, Ackermann handing it behind the drum kit to free his hands so he could swing one of the stage strobes around by the cable — you know, like you do — before taking it back to finish the song, getting a couple more high-arc tosses in in the meantime. There was more as Fedowitz came out from the kit to the front of the stage for vocal duties, bringing the floor tom and snare along and playing while standing up. I have to think you get the point. A spectacle.


Eyehategod (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I don’t know how long it’s been since I saw Eyehategod, and in the spirit of the band, I don’t really give a shit. The New Orleans sludge originators — they didn’t do it on their own, but there’s sludgers the world over who should be calling them Uncle — came out and jammed for a couple minutes before the set actually started, and from there it was feedback abrasion, raw-throated gnash from vocalist Mike IX Williams, the somehow-bouncing riffs of Jimmy Bower and bassist Gary Mader’s tonal density like the dirt from which their mud is made, while drummer Aaron Hill — who’s been in the band a decade now — managed to make it go. I was off them for a few years, but they’ve stood up to the years with middle fingers ever raised, and I can’t think of another band who can come across as both completely professional and unhinged at the same time, as when Williams started the faux-prayer “dear god, please forgive us,” before seeming to think better of the whole idea and end with a quick “fuck you” as the next song slammed in. In a crowd with this many people, it was most likely somebody’s first Eyehategod show, and while I’m no expert on the subject, when I think of Eyehategod, I think of precisely the kind of omnidirectional aggro disaffection they tore into. “How many people have to go to work tomorrow?” Some hands. I have to think more would be up if tomorrow was Monday. Right into “Every Thing, Every Day.” They’re a band who’ve been underestimated for over 30 years, and much more than most, they make it believable that they don’t care. And probably by now they don’t, if they ever did. That, plus riffs.


Imarhan (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Today’s Tuareg contingent, Imarhan come from Algeria and followed suit in rhythmic style and resultant danceability from Bombino and Etran de L’Aïr, both of whom also had the crowd moving yesterday and the day before, which is starting to feel like a very, very long time ago. Whatever focus might be on the guitar, Imarhan kept the theme running of bass I could happily spend an evening listening to, as well as clearing the slate after the aural violence of Eyehategod and the actual violence of A Place to Bury Strangers to transition into the evening ahead. I know little about Tuareg culture or the plight of the people who are part of it, but the music as an outlet for that reinforces the communicative nature of art, and the more Imarhan jammed, the more they got their point across. Their latest album is called Aboogi, and the connection between desert rock and, well, desert rock, should be plain to anyone who encounters it. Mellow, warm boogie gave over to sweet psych instrumental melody, spirals of engaging guitar noodling, vocals and hand-percussion going right along, as if they wouldn’t, and the flow held. In America, everything is political and everything is race, and I’d be more than happy to go on about the long history of white producers “discovering” and recording music from around the world, from Lead Belly to Bombino — aesthetic colonialism — and I noted in reading up that Aboogi was recorded by Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, but this isn’t the time or place for that rant. I’m not looking to be misunderstood, and frankly, the music felt more about erasing lines than drawing them. Probably that makes me chickenshit. A privilege afforded by my own culture. As the sundown act for the final day of SonicBlast 2023, Imarhan invited all to dance, and many took them up on it.

The Black Angels

The Black Angels (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve dabbled in the work of Austin psych rockers The Black Angels, but not much more than that. Most of what I know is people like them and they’re well regarded critically. Big mags that go to SXSW write about them, though that’s hardly their fault. There were times when it seemed like the kick drum was the only thing keeping the whole set from turning into a puddle of goo, but obviously that’s on purpose, and with the keys and the two guitars, bass, more keys, multiple vocalists, one drummer — more two-drummer psych bands now! — all seeming to go at once, they were full in sound and heavier live than I would have expected them to be, which I guess is a compliment since they also had that languid sway speaking to some notion of coolness that is timeless if you believe the Baby Boomers invented time or that anyone in mainstream culture knows psych rock still exists, or cares, for that matter. You could call it indie crossover if you want — it’s the internet; the stakes couldn’t be lower — but they were plenty lysergic, and parts felt like a grown-up version of what Spirit Mother were up to this afternoon, rockin’ out in Reverb City. But the crowd knew them more than I did and they put out a record last year called Wilderness of Mirrors that was probably genius and if I bothered to listen would change my life, so there you go. I guess they left me a little cold, but I’ll take that on myself since I’m both waiting for Dozer and half thinking about packing and flying out tomorrow. Did I say “last day blues” yet? Fair enough. Throbbing, they were.

Church of Misery

Church of Misery (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It would be fun to put together a list of the best riff writers of all time — I’m not going to; no fun — but any such endeavor would be bullshit without the inclusion of Tatsu Mikami from Church of Misery. The low-slung founding bassist of Japan’s leading doom rock export has been through entire lineups of singers, guitarists and drummers, but the guitar of Yukito Okazaki, the drums of Toshiaki Umemura and returning vocalist Kazuhiro Asaeda marked themselves out as a version of Church of Misery to see, making the case strongly on this year’s Born Under a Mad Sign (review here) for showing up. Certainly Church of Misery fucking did. And oh, when that bass tone hit, I could feel it like a rumbly in my tumbly and all of a sudden I didn’t care if the lyrics were about the dude feeding his cat, it was that groove that had me. They were on fire. Kazuhiro waving his hands around swimming through the fog of the riffs — also the actual fog — absolutely nailing “Born to Raise Hell,” and Yukito might be a generation younger but he also might be the best guitarist I’ve seen with this band, and by this time in my life I’ve seen a few. For a new incarnation of the band, everybody owned the material, Toshiaki with the oh-so-essential swing to make that doom boogie, and Tatsu on the far side of the stage, an absolute master at this thing he does. As the photographers were getting kicked out of the pit — not complaining; that time/song limit is useful every now and again to keep you in check and handling your shit — I put my body in front of the P.A., just for a second, so I could feel it in my bones. Incredible how a band so obsessed with mass murder can be so life-affirming. I’m glad they’re back, and I’m lucky to have seen this version of the band. They finished with “Beltway Sniper” and “Freeway Madness Boogie,” both from the new record, and the place went off like the songs were 20 years old. It was a celebration.


Dozer (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Life affords you very few — none to date, in my case — to get on stage and watch while Dozer are playing. Did I dare? It was now or never. And as experience-making as that was, I’m glad I went out front again in time to see Arvid from Greenleaf come out for a guest spot on “Rings of Saturn.” I’d heard before they went on that was going to happen, and it was quick but great, no less because they followed it with “Supersoul” and man, I just went nuts. It was so great. So great. Chills the entire time, not even exaggerating. Well maybe a little bit fucking hell give me a break Dozer were so god damned amazing I was headbanging in the photo pit. Maybe the pics will suck. Who cares? Arvid back out: “this is Monster Truck. That big thing that pushes stuff.” A bit of standup “Always eat spinach.” My friend, I have been trying for three days to find some to no avail. If you got the hookup don’t hold out. Yes, I saw Dozer last December. Again, who cares? If I saw them yesterday this would’ve still been incredible. Shit, I DID see Greenleaf yesterday. Unreal. Culmination of the weekend. “Born a Legend.” Existential high point I feel like I’ve been chasing for the last two and a half years. The payoff for my pandemic. Sebastian Olsson on drums. Holy shit. Fredrik Nordin’s vocals coming through those giant speakers. That shout. Those riffs. Johan Rockner’s bass not only keeping up with Tommi Holappa’s twists and punches and shred but doing so with a singular immediacy. Dozer is the band who taught me heavy rock could be explosive, propulsive, volcanic, and still beautiful. They went to their first album in 15 years, Drifting in the Endless Void (review here), to close out with “Missing 13,” Olsson knocking over a cymbal and Arvid picking it up en route to Dozer riding that riff and Holappa soloing away. There was some mic feedback toward the end, but it didn’t matter. I stopped writing. I stopped worrying. I put my phone down and banged my fucking head and threw my fist in the air, and for a few gorgeous minutes I hope I never forget that’s what life was.


Lunavieja (Photo by JJ Koczan)

An occult epilogue to my evening and my SonicBlast, Lunavieja had skulls, reeds, incense and centuries of Iberian heathenism to draw from, and with a sound that was vibrant and a theatricality unlike anything else I’ve seen this weekend, they built an atmosphere of malevolent, writhing doom, psychedelic post-metal, some rock, and meditative, dark folk. I said a few goodbyes and made my way out during their set, stopped up on the boardwalk to sit on a little bench there in the mostly dark — the town is right there, so there is ambient light — and look at the stars and listen to the music and the waves together. “Beach and riffs,” right? It wasn’t planned, and it was only a few minutes, maybe five, but just stopping, sitting for a breath, it was like taking a huge drink of water. I was already on my way out mentally and physicality — got my ride to the airport tomorrow confirmed and everything — so this was just about being there, putting myself in that moment, to be, just to be, in that place one more time. Lunavieja’s grim mass behind, the anticipation of returning to my family ahead, I allowed for the appreciation of being in the middle, not existing in either world yet. Not thinking about the travel, the writing, the to-do list that awaits. I doubt Lunavieja will ever know they were a part of that, that they helped make it happen in a weird kind of way — ‘weird’ suiting them quite well, generally — but they were. It meant something to me. I learned a lot here. They were a part of that, too.

Thank you. If your eyes are on these words, thank you. The list of names is so long. Everybody I spoke to, everyone who came up and said hi, the fucking Sasquatch guys shouting me out, being onstage while Dozer are playing. Meeting Berto, seeing Claire after a decade, hanging out with Dr. Space, chatting music with Daniel and Bruno in the photo pit, taking pictures of bands, pictures with people, trying to cram as many memories into my head as I possibly could because I’m just so god damned lucky to be here. The flight, the nerves. It was all worth it, easily. For Dozer alone, never mind Acid King, Ruff Majik, Greenleaf, Kanaan, Church of Misery, Spirit Mother, Temple Fang, Naxatras (now I get to say I’ve seen Naxatras forever!), Weedpecker, Kadavar, all the way back to Plastic Woods, the first band at the pre-show, absolutely schooling me on where I was and what it meant to be here. Thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you Ricardo and Telma. Thank you for inviting me, for welcoming me, for the music and the place. The reality of what you’ve built is so much more than just the beach and riffs. Thank you.

I fly out tomorrow evening, 6PM-ish. I don’t know that I will or won’t write again before then, so one more time, thank you for reading, thanks to Wendy, The Pecan, my mother, my sister. I don’t know that I’ll be invited back to SonicBlast again, and that’s not what matters. What matters is how fortunate I was to be here at all. Thank you. Thank you.

More photos after the ‘read more’ jump.

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Notes From Freak Valley 2023 – Day 2

Posted in Features, Reviews on June 10th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Melvins lead shot (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Freak Valley Festival 2023 – Day 2

Fri. – 1PM – A Different Shade Tent

Got back to the hotel in Siegen last night around two, I think. The question was whether to shower before collapsing into bed. I did, and it was the right call. The smell of cigarette smoke, sweat, and humanity was powerful motivation. And when I did conk out, I slept harder than I have in some time. Maybe about a year?

It’s hot today and soon to start. Bit of breeze in the shade is a big yes. In the interest of honesty I tell you I’m beat and a little nervous for what the day might bring, but ready for it. Took all the allergy medicine, have sunglasses, my silly hat, earplugs. Water. So much water. Gonna go grab some more now, in fact. All the water.

Sorry for the typos today as well, but thanks for reading if you are/do. Here’s the day:


Orsak Oslo 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Norwegian/Swedish instrumental four-piece remind me of last year’s fest, which had a whole bunch of meditative psych/post-heavy with which they would fit well. Their new album, In Irons (discussed here), came out in April on Vinter Records, and they harnessed that fluidity live, or maybe that’s the other way around, I’d have to see them a few more times to properly judge. But the bit of krautrock they worked in was met with some dancing from the crowd, and while I think many of those in the audience today are definitely feeling the edge of the late finish last night — I know I am — Orsak:Oslo were a way of easing into a day that’s even longer and has more to see. For sure a different vibe than Tuskar, who were first yesterday, but their flow and comparatively mellow but still lucid psych seemed to hypnotize just right. I was glad to see them again after seeing them briefly in Norway in 2019 (review here), and their set was a stirring reminder to get my ass in gear on reviewing that record. Message received. Obviously they didn’t have the biggest crowd of the day, playing at 1:30 some 10 hours before the headliner, but there were people out front, more by the end, and they were dancing.

Earth Ship

Earth Ship 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I was very curious to see Earth Ship, because as regards projects from the Berlin-based Jan Oberg and Sabine Oberg — the others are Grin and the pandemic-born Slowshine — Earth Ship are kind of the middle ground. They rock more than Grin, whose sludge is pointedly aggro, and they’re more grounded than the psych-tinged Slowshine, and not only do I appreciate how their bands are organized — I like a bit of this goes here, this goes here, this goes here — but Earth Ship’s riffs are a hook of their own. And they’re more even more rock live than on record, though Jan’s vocals are still largely barks, but watching them for the first time, it’s easy to see they’re having fun and love what they do. They weren’t thrashing around or anything, but there was passion behind their delivery and stage energy, and it was infectious. Inviting, in a way. “You dig this. We do too. Let’s get loud.” Unfortunately this utopian vision doesn’t apply to everyone everywhere all the time, because it’s a big planet, but I’m glad to have had a sampling of what they do and hope it’s not the last time our paths cross, in whatever incarnation.


Kamchatka 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Heavy blues promised, heavy blues delivered. Nothing there to argue with even if you wanted to. In the heat of the afternoon, Sweden’s Kamchatka brought a little bit of a breeze that, in combination with the sprinklers strewn about the festival grounds being frequented by adults and children alike, was some measure of relief. No doubt the wind was conjured by the air being pushed through the amps and the swing of drummer Tobias Strandvik, who was comfortable in the pocket as the trio — completed by guitarist Thomas “Juneor” Andersson and bassist Per Wiberg (yes, the same one who’s played with Opeth, Candlemass, Spiritual Beggars, on and on, mostly on keys; he’s also got a few solo releases; must like music or something) were classically dynamic, varied of tempo and mood, and they had a couple sleek jams worked in with the bouts of uptempo shove, mellow groove, all that stuff, definitely heavy ’70s informed but modern in their presentation. I wandered a bit, trying not to be just in one place all day — the quest for shade is part of that, to be sure — but my own restlessness was duly counteracted by the solid, unpretentious grooves coming from the stage, and as one will on such an occasion, I found myself feeling like I need to listen to this band more. A lesson learned, maybe.


Steak 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

So somewhere in the long-long ago, I saw a band in London called Crystal Head who blew me away and left me wondering what the hell the deal was that they weren’t huge. Seeing that band’s former guitarist/vocalist, Tom Cameron, joining his ex-and-again bandmate Dean Deal (drums), as part of an upgraded five-piece Steak lineup, again on guitar and adding his vocals to those of frontman Chris “Kippa” Haley — they even covered that band’s likewise memorable “Perfect Weirdo” before playing a new song called “2×2” — was a thrill. Haley sharing vocal duties is a shift in the dynamic, but in line with 2022’s righteous Acute Mania (review here) — if you heard the record you might say their realizing their potential to such a degree was “a long time coming” — they’re a deeper band for being able to bring their arrangements to life with another player on board. I haven’t been to a show in London in half a decade, but I hope Steak are playing the next one I hit. I was prepared for a more mature act by seeing them in 2019 at Desertfest New York (review here), but between the lineup, the record and the performance, they’ve truly put it all together. Change is the nature of the universe. Sometimes it even works out.


Pontiak 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Well, that’s my new working definition of underrated. Based in Virginia, the brotherly trio Pontiak were the perfect blend for the moment. They were heavy enough to follow Steak so that there wasn’t a loss of aural push on the day, but with each of member of the Carney family with a mic, yeah. Just, yeah. I’ve written about them intermittently over the years, never really with any depth, and I’m sorry that it’s only now I understand the error in that neglect. The noisier, punkier, more aggro impulse is still there in the guitar, but the atmosphere is so reconciled to it, so right in being what it is, that the melodies seemed that much richer for the underlying tension. Sitting at stage right, I turned my head and saw a small pocket of maybe four dudes being led in a yoga class and hell fucking yes I joined (asked first). Happy to report that yoga and Pontiak went together extremely well, and the stretch and the focus on calm movement, purposeful movement, that slowdown was incredible. Doing cat-cows while the band locked in a half-time nod that reminded me of the time they toured with Sleep. Planks and down-dogs and pigeon and all that. I said yesterday that I could feel myself being too tight. I’m not sure my back will thank me this evening for the cobras, but screw it, sometimes the riffs are right and the thing is happening and you need to go with it. I have absolutely no regrets. I hope it happens again tomorrow. And if Pontiak wanted to do a hang out and do a second show, that’d be rad too.

Seedy Jeezus

Seedy Jeezus 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Would be an odd way to start a conversation, but if you asked me how many times in my life I was going to see Melbourne, Australia’s Seedy Jeezus, my honest answer would’ve been zero to one. Thus I consider watching them play a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and with their The Hollow Earth live 2LP (discussed here) fresh in mind — they played the title-track, and no, that wasn’t all — I tried my best to soak in every minute of their heavy psych-blues jams and the scorching guitar work of Lex Waterreus, who put his soul into every note in a way that was palpable, but that didn’t lose the audience along the way. I’d say he was all heart if he wasn’t also so clearly technique. They were Hendrixian even before they threw in the cover of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” that also appears on that live record, but certainly that would seal the deal in that regard. The last time they were here, in 2015, they put out a live album after. If they did ‘Live at Freak Valley Again’ they’d be well within their rights. Actually, maybe they should just record all their shows. Worked for the Dead. Easy, organic flow, jammy but headed somewhere, joy to follow. They’re not a band I ever thought I would experience live. And I met Lex and drummer Mark Sibson — the band is very much completed by Paul Crick on bass — and they seem like nice sorts. Lex teared up thanking the crowd — he also shouted out the much-missed Stoned Jesus, who would be here but for war — and then the whole band proceeded to tear into another ace jam of the kind you get to witness, well, let’s just say not very often. Having now done so once, that’s a record I’d be happy to break.

King Buffalo

King Buffalo 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

What a charmed fucking existence I lead. King Buffalo are the first band this weekend whose set I was so wrapped up in that I forgot to write. Sometimes you just leave time. It hasn’t been that long since I last encountered the Rochester, New York, three-piece, less than a year — though as history has shown, that’s long enough for one or two landmark LPs from them — but they were a pleasure as always. Dan Reynolds, man. Taking that bassline in “Silverfish” for walks both literal and figurative. They’ve been on tour for somewhere around three weeks now, have somewhere around a week to go, and are duly sharp onstage. I could go on and on about their pandemic trilogy of LPs, regale you with hyperbole and superlatives about the depth of their sound, the emotional undercurrent to their melodies, the sheer growth they’ve undergone in the last nine years, but I’ve said it all before. And being me, I’ll probably say it all again. I could have put in the review links, but fuck it. Watching them, it wasn’t time for that. It was time to be in that moment. That particular almost gone right very now. Dudes in the crowd throwing love hearts at each other. It was a beautiful moment to be alive. I can take out my phone and finish the god damned sentence later. I don’t know about you, but I would have had a much harder time the last three years of my life without this band. And I don’t think they’ve yet done their best work. I hope they never do. Would be a shame to think of them not chasing that thing. Not gonna take away from anyone else on this bill or the decades of work Earthless and the Melvins have put in, but this was my headliner set for the night. And it wasn’t even dark.


Earthless 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I was in front of the stage at the time, but I have to think that wherever you were on the festival grounds, you knew Earthless as about to go on when Isaiah Mitchell started warming up on guitar. Little shred here, little shred there. Mario Rubalcaba back there thump thump, Mike Eginton rumble rumble. And that’s Earthless. You take shred shred, thump thump, rumble rumble, make sure everyone is unrealistically talented, and you let it become epic as it inevitably will. Serve hot, like scorching. The most-of-the-time instrumental trio came to Freak Valley to play their latest album, Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (review here), in its entirety. That album came out in January and in following 2018’s Black Heaven (review here), found the band reclaiming their longform sans-vocal approach after the last record’s partial foray into more traditional rock songwriting. Of course they ripped it up, they’re frickin’ Earthless. Gradual start, bit of a raga wakeup at the beginning of the record, then all of a sudden except not really sudden it’s been happening the whole time you just didn’t realize it because see “unrealistically talented” above, and they were fully immersed. And so was the crowd. It was after 10PM but still just barely nighttime — Earthless at sundown; I dare you to ask for more — and I guess I didn’t realize it at the time, but it turns out that whole record was meant to be played live. And that’s something they can actually do because the parts are plotted. They’re songwriting, just on their own level, which incidentally is how they do everything. The world is in no small part because of Earthless not at all short on instrumental heavy psych rock — more bands seem to form every time they play, and they play a fair amount; someone tell Bandcamp they’re gonna need more servers — but still, one Earthless. They were entrancing.


Melvins 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I would never dare call myself a Melvins fan, especially in the presence of so many who obviously are, but it’s common knowledge they destroy live and their current incarnation absolutely slayed. I don’t know if I’m going to go dig into the probably 15 or so records they’ve done in the last decade-plus to catch up, but I definitely don’t regret watching them cover “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and they played a tune or two I recognized from the days when they and Big Business were a thing — fortunately Dale Crover didn’t seem to have much trouble doing the work of two drummers — and that song from Stoner Witch or whichever of those Atlantic-era records it was. Imagine a major label signing a band like this now. Ha. But these Melvins have been at it — hard — for the last 40 years and they’re still punk rock no matter how thick their riffs are. Goes without saying this was my first time seeing them with Steven Shane McDonald and he was a perfect fit. That’s the guy to keep up with Crover and King Buzzo, as much as anyone could hope to do so. He was a blast, they were a blast, and they came out to “Take on Me” by A-ha, which in the world of weird coincidences, I’ve run into three times in the last month. Great song, doesn’t matter. The important thing is the Melvins let Freak Valley know why they are who they are and sat on top of this bill because it would’ve been silly for another band to try to follow them. King Buzzo echoing into the finally-night sky. Total blowout.

Okay that’s enough. Day three tomorrow. Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump. Good night.

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Friday Full-Length: Earthless & Harsh Toke, Acid Crusher / Mount Swan Split LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 7th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Earthless and Harsh Toke offered their split LP, Acid Crusher / Mount Swan (review here), through Tee Pee Records in 2016. By then, the former trio were already on their way to being legends in the live performance space, their various stage-recorded offerings — arguably highlighted by 2008’s Live at Roadburn (discussed here) but by no means limited to that — some with wider distribution, some for the merch table, and studio works like 2013’s From the Ages (review here), 2007’s Rhythms From a Cosmic Sky having propelled them to the forefront of heavy consciousness as a landmark act for their generation and an influence for others to work from. Their latest LP, Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (review here), came out last year and they’ll continue to herald it live throughout 2023.

Enter, then, Harsh Toke, who were always more toke than harsh, and whose penchant for heavy jams came through the speakers in oozing fashion on 2013’s impressive debut, Light Up and Live (discussed here), also on Tee Pee. The Earthless comparison was obvious even before the two bands teamed for Acid Crusher / Mount Swan, but guitarist Justin “Figgy” Figueroa, keyboardist/vocalist Gabe Messer, drummer Austin Ayub and bassist Richie Belton dug in deep and came out of doing so with an individual chemistry and an energy that was smoke-cloud-thick in vibe and engaging to follow on its outward course.

How the two met and how the split came about, I don’t know — bands working in a similar style in the same city, it doesn’t seem unlikely they’d run into each other sooner or later — but it tells an important part of the tale of San Diego’s heavy underground in the early- and mid-’10s. It was happening, man. There were a few years there where it seemed like every couple weeks another San Diego band was popping up — and Tee Pee fostered a lot of them, but there was even more than what they put out from bands like Joy, Sacri Monti, Harsh Toke, later Pharlee, Volcano, and many others if you want to open geography to greater SoCal — and the material coming out of that town right around 2016/2017 was largely unparalleled in the US as regards single scenes. They could do no wrong.

Sure, Portland has been a heavy hotbed now for at least the last 15 years, and the doom of the Chesapeake Watershed will outlive us all, and there’s Chicago’s post-whathaveyou, Florida’s post-Cavity sludge rock, Boston’s traditional heavy songwriting, New York trying to be all things to all people all the time, on and on, but what came up in San Diego felt big and special and fresh, and so it was. I don’t know that I’d call the scene ‘over’ now, since certainly Earthless are actively touring and releasing records and they are a guiding light for newer bands some two decades into their tenure, and Sacri Monti and Zack Oakley and El Perro (maybe?) and Birth are rolling, but the boom has abated as it inevitably would, and Acid Crusher / Mount Swan serves as not only a reminder of the vitality of spirit that was behind much of what came out of that place and in those years, but emphasizes the mentor role Earthless played in shaping the classic-heavy and boogie rock methodology that in part earthless harsh toke acid crusher mount swandefined the boom in the first place.

As ever, the trio of bassist Mike Eginton (who also did the cover art here and for most of what they put out), drummer Mario Rubalcaba (Hot SnakesRocket From the Crypt, etc.) and guitarist Isaiah Mitchell (ex-Howlin’ RainGolden Void, collabs with Seedy Jeezus and a ton of others, touring guitarist for The Black Crowes, etc.) offer quintessential heavy exploration in “Acid Crusher,” while in more of a rarity for Earthless, their piece is actually the shorter of the two side-consumers on the release. With a mood quickly set by its initial fuzzy bassline, organ (Tim Green played on the first record, not sure if he’s doing so this time), echoing tambourine flourish and Mitchell‘s shimmering guitar over the steady groove held down by Rubalcaba and Eginton that ensues, “Acid Crusher” isn’t two minutes into its total 14:56 before Earthless have dug out a space for themselves in the pocket of a mellow swing.

Some hand percussion enters after seven minutes in, and the wah overdose past the 10-minute mark has more soul than most rock records all by itself, but “Acid Crusher” is basically set around repetitions of its central groove, a light bounce that gives the keys and guitar room to play around it. As to how much is or isn’t improvised, one never really knows with Earthless, but they manage to carve a hook out of the interplay of guitar and keys, and they roll it out casual-like to make that 15-minutes go by in a semi-conscious flash. One could hardly ask for a more appropriate setup to Harsh Toke‘s “Mount Swan,” which checks in at 19:37 and fades into its takeoff with an early sense of doom overarching in the riff, but turns quick to jazzier punch in transitioning to a verse with watery vocals from Messer that even seven years later feel like a surprise after Earthless‘ instrumental take.

They don’t last, not that it would be a problem if they did. It’s a quick few lines before Harsh Toke crash out to noise and the bass picks up the thread on a slower roll, ambient psych guitar feedback and effects swirling around it. Ayub‘s drums return sooner or later, slow taps on the ride cymbal with crash for accent, an easy fluidity that defines the instrumental remainder of the song that feels correspondingly jammed out, band-in-room, and if it wasn’t recorded live, they make it easy to believe it could’ve been.

Dual-channel guitar solos take hold as the band approach the seventh minute, and they bring it to a head gradually before slowing down again, the organic nature of how they ride the main progression all the more fluid for its shifts in tempo, a bit of shred tossed in for good measure along the way. “Mount Swan” comes apart at about 12:05 and over the remainder of the track seems to hold on by a thread — or by the bass and drums, if you prefer — but it holds on just the same until its final fade, faster here, groovier there, abidingly languid all the while in complement to “Acid Crusher” before, willing a kind of warts-and-all approach that most bands wouldn’t dare even in the context of heavy psych jamming.

Repetition again serving a key role as regards rhythm, Harsh Toke still manage a showcase of dynamic that lives up to what Earthless do on side A, which, yes, is a compliment. Their last release (to-date, because one never knows) was 2019’s Burnout (review here) split with Sacri Monti and Joy, and they toured Europe that year as well. In 2018, Harsh Toke had taken part in the ‘San Diego Takeover’ at the Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands, which was arguably a crescendo for that league of San Diego heavy outfits. Earthless by then were headliners — at that fest and elsewhere — and artists-in-residence playing multiple sets, and had signed to Nuclear Blast to release the daringly-song-based Black Heaven (review here) that same year.

This split LP — a deceptively accessible listen at 34 minutes — was old news by then, but in hindsight it casts a light on the creative blossoming that took place in San Diego around this time. That scene wasn’t and isn’t perfect, but the sense of community was real, and Acid Crusher / Mount Swan underscores this as well as the heady pleasure of losing oneself in the unfolding of these longform pieces.

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

Coming on 5AM now. I’ve been up since two. It’s been like that. The other night I rolled over at 12:30 and was awake for the duration. I stayed in bed and tried to sleep for 45 minutes or so before admitting defeat and waking up. I’ve been reliably waking up around three most nights. Alarm goes off at four. I think I made it that long once this week. To be honest, at the end of the day I’m tired no matter what I do, and if I was going to ‘catch up on sleep’ or readjust my circadian rhythm to something approaching normalcy, it would probably be a process of weeks and months more than days. Maybe I’ll get there at some point. Maybe a piano will fall on my head.

While we’re on fascinating subjects, anyone want to talk about the weather? This week was The Pecan’s spring break from pre-K, and the weather fortunately cooperated for the most part. On Tuesday we went to the Turtle Back Zoo for the first time this year — it’s a regular stop for us — and plotzed around, and it was so nice out that we hit a playground after. And yesterday was actually hot in the sun, so life-affirmingly beautiful that I broke out three Amorphis records to listen to in the car as we drove from one playground to another in the afternoon.

We’d gone for an ADOS evaluation earlier in the day, which assesses a bottom line on whether or not a given brain is on the autism spectrum. The prevailing thought is no, which I’ll take — one of my three nephews is very much ASD, limited verbal, and so on, so we’re pretty attuned to it — but I think we’re all just kind of hanging around the ADHD-with-sensory-features thing. But everyone says the kid is brilliant, and it’s kind of true, so it’s possible the situation is just a ‘gonna be a smart weirdo’ kind of thing. Fair enough, I guess.

Gender continues to be a big topic in our days, and you’ll notice a lack of he/she pronouns in the two paragraphs above. I think we’re genuinely moving from ‘he’ to ‘she’ in that regard, happening like right now, and it’s kind of incredible to see this kid coming to feel so right about a thing. I remember when The Patient Mrs. first got pregnant — oh the harrowing tale, let me not relive it though I do anyway pretty much constantly — we talked about how much we wanted a daughter. Well there you go. Again, fair enough, though one does worry about things like nazis in government and shitty kids in school and violence against trans people and so on.

But the last few weekends there’s been an Our Whole Lives class at the UU church in Morristown and that has seemed to help a lot with framing at least as far as The Pecan’s own mindset goes. Dare to say she’s a good boy or some such and you’ll be corrected, with gusto. I think we might be in dresses by the time kindergarten starts this Fall, which is only an issue because all of the handmedowns we have — and we have so, so many — are boy clothes. Fucking of course it would be a money thing. Alas, we roll with it.

As 700 or so emails have already informed me this morning, today’s Bandcamp Friday. If you’re celebrating that or whatever pagan version of Easter is cool this year, I wish you all the best. We’re having family over as we will and I feel fortunate to be able to do so even while acknowledging the inevitable fuckton of work to be done. While we’re on the subject, the next seven days are a Quarterly Review, because I’m both an idiot and way backed up on shit. I might even do another week in May, then one in early July, as there’s so much coming out to try to keep up with. I’ve got most of the rest of the year planned out in that regard. At least space blocked off for fests and QRs.

And speaking of fests, I might end up at SonicBlast this August. Keeping my fingers crossed that comes together over the next week. Would be an awesome trip to add to Freak Valley in Germany this June and Høstsabbat in Norway in October, along with Grim Reefer in Baltimore later this month, hopefully Maryland Doom Fest in June, and Desertfest New York in September. Fests are easier for me at this point than club shows. Time does weird things to you.

I’ve gone on long enough so will leave it there. No Gimme show this week, but thanks if you check out any old ones in their Vault, or hit up Obelisk merch, or make it to the end of this sentence, or just exist. Have a great and safe weekend, and don’t forget to hydrate. It’ll be summer (winter in the southern hemisphere) before you know it.


The Obelisk Collective on Facebook

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

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Down the Hill 2023 Full Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Obviously the focus here is on the lineup and that’s exactly how it should be, but I’d also like to point out that Belgian festival Down the Hill 2023 will also boast among its amenities an ‘ice cream barn,’ and that’s some wonderfully wholesome accompaniment for a weekend’s worth of heavy and psychedelic — and heavy psychedelic! — vibing. The final four adds to the lineup are Earthless, who, duh, headline, as well as Radar Men From the Moon, Condor Gruppe and Kameel, and they continue to flesh out the reach and range of the Down the Hill, which is set for this August 25-26 in Rillaar and admits only 600 people to keep an intimate setting.

So, keep that in mind as you peruse the bill and see the likes of Mars Red Sky, the reborn live lineup of Sula Bassana, Kanaan, Dorre, Fire Down Below and a slew of others from within and without Belgium. I’ve never been, but this seems like a really cool, dug-in kind of couple days, and if you get to go, well, I’d love to hear about it at some point. You know I daydream on this stuff.

From social media:

Down the Hill 2023


On August 25 & 26 the Down The Hill Festival will arise again from the lush green hillsides in Rillaar, Belgium!

FB event:

Already known for the small & cosy set-up
(limited to 600 tickets) on a gorgeous piece of farm style land and its magical charm.
This 2-day outdoor festival shows some of the finest heavy psychedelic underground rock bands from around the world, on a wooden stage!


*HYPNOS 69 (be)
*KANAAN (nor)
*GNOME (be)
*KAMEEL (be)
*DORRE (be)

7” OF RIFFS by MOOS (be)

*FESTIVAL MERCH stand will also be available on the DTH website

*FOOD TRUCKS meat, veggie and vegan
*BREAKFAST & ICECREAM BARN powered by ‘t Nijswolkje




Down the Hill 2023 playlist

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Freak Valley 2023 Adds Earthless, Slift, Stoned Jesus & More; Lineup Complete

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 15th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Not much you can really debate about Freak Valley Festival 2023 in either concept or execution. The headliners — Clutch, the Melvins and Orange Goblin playing Time Travelling Blues in its entirety — are long-established bill-toppers, and backed by the likes of EarthlessKing Buffalo and Stoned Jesus even before you get to Slift and The Obsessed and Astroqueen and Hypnos69 and Gaupa and on and on and on and fucking Seedy Jeezus is gonna be there — you’ve got Seedy Jeezus and Stoned Jesus in the same place on the same weekend! — it’s all the more apparent just how called-for making this trip actually is. So I’m going.

As with last year, I’ll be doing my best to cover as much of Freak Valley 2023 as possible with photos and writeups, and whether it’s bands I’ve seen or bands I’ve never seen, I know enough now to know that it’s not just about watching bands, but about watching them there, in that place between those hills, the joy that radiates through the hopefully cooperative weather and everybody in attendance. It’s gonna be a blast, and I’ll at last get to see Slift in a setting that I feel like is worthy of the occasion. Mark it a win even before I get on the plane. Speaking of, better book that flight.

Here’s the final lineup, newly announced:

freak valley 2023 final lineup

Hails Freaks!

Time for the final lineup announcement. We hope your 2023 is off to a great start. Either way, it’s about to get better.

Please welcome:


Full Line-up:

ORANGE GOBLIN “Time Travelling Freak Valley Blues Show”
EARTHLESS “Night Parade of 1000 Demons” in full!

We’re done – hope you love the lineup as much as we do!


Thank all of you so much for your support, this year and every year.

Freak Valley Festival // No Fillers – Just Killers
June 8-10, 2023

Event page:

Earthless, Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (2022)

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SonicBlast Fest 2023 Makes First Lineup Announcement

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

Portugal’s SonicBlast Fest will mark its 11th go in 2023 with a massive, still-more-to-be-announced lineup that spans styles and geographies, from Norway to Greece to Japan and New Orleans to San Diego, Poland and Los Angeles and New York and sludge to psych-jazz and on from there into however many ethers of prog and rock. It’s easy to admire even from across an ocean what SonicBlast has built over its years, and the photos that emerge from each edition — just a bunch of awesome bands playing in paradise, no big deal — are enviable to say the least, and while I don’t want to be engaging too deeply in promo speak or trying to tap anyone’s FOMO, if you’re thinking of making the trip, however far it may or may not be, it’ll probably sell out.

Check out OFF! hitting the heavy fests, huh? Not quite what I’d expect there, but cool to see Acid King getting out, and good to know Naxatras will be back on the road as well next summer along with a host of others. Over the last couple weeks, a lot of the Spring and Summer 2023 festival season in Europe has taken shape, and with the promise of so much more to come, it looks like it’s gonna be a good one. Call it revelry well earned, and let’s all appreciate it whether or not we can actually be there.

To wit:

sonicblast fest 2023 cassette poster

We’re so psyched to announce the first bands to join us at SonicBlast Fest’s 11th edition: OFF!, Acid King, A Place To Bury Strangers, Earthless, KADAVAR, Elder, EYEHATEGOD, Death Valley Girls, Church of Misery, Frankie and the Witch Fingers, Weedpecker, Mondo Generator, Naxatras, Kanaan, BLACK RAINBOWS, Acid Mammoth, Monarch, Spirit Mother and El Altar Del Holocausto!

*** many more to be announced soon ***

Full festival tickets are already on sale at BOL ( and at

Artwork by Branca Studio

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Seedy Jeezus and Isaiah Mitchell Record New Tranquonauts LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 24th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

No doubt there is an entire swath of silly subtitles one might — in a spirit of joy, of course — tack onto Tranquonauts 2, the upcoming, may-not-actually-be-called-that-when-it’s-released sequel to the 2016 first collaborative LP from Australia’s Seedy Jeezus and Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, Tranquonauts (review here). I don’t even know where to start, except to say that ‘Electric Boogaloo’ is out because it was usurped by fascist dickheads. Ditto Twitter and a whole bunch of other shit. Alas, the times.

I’m pretty sure Mitchell is back in Oz on tour playing guitar with some band called The Black Crowes, but Earthless have been out and about this year as well supporting the January release of their latest LP, Night Parade of One Hundred Demons (review here), their second record for Nuclear Blast and something of a return to form. Meanwhile, Seedy Jeezus issued the live 2LP The Hollow Earth (discussed here) on Lay Bare Recordings and Blown Music after a somewhat fraught pressing process. Was it really July that came out? Shit. I’m later than I thought on a review. So it goes. Constantly.

Needless to say, I’ll do my best when the time comes for Tranquonauts 2 though I wouldn’t necessarily think that’s happening soon. They mention setting the tracklist and having Tony Reed of Mos Generator, Big Scenic Nowhere and various others involved. Interesting that “his genius” isn’t specified as mixing, mastering or actually playing on the thing. All, incidentally, would only be good news.

Speaking of:

Tranquonauts Photo by Stephen Boxshall ( Rag and Bone photography)

Tranquonauts 2 was recorded today Studio OneB.

It was awesome to get the album in the can…. we just need to pick n choose what will be the running order and how it will flow and then send it to Tony Reed to add his genius to the mix.

Heads up – It’s very different to the first Tranquonauts album . We decided to push in different directions to what we would usually go.

Bring on 2023 for its release.

Photo by Stephen Boxshall ( Rag and Bone photography) Barry Lumber, Mark Stewart Sibson, Lex Frumpy, Isaiah Mitchell.

Tranquonauts, “The Vanishing Earth Pt. III

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