The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Singles, EPs, Splits and Demos of 2014

Posted in Features on December 23rd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

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I did this last year mostly as a result of not having somewhere to put  http://www.vasmetal.net/critical-thinking-a-level/. US-based service has hired native writers with graduate degrees, capable of completing all types of papers on any academic level. Elder‘s  Are you looking for best what can i do my extended essay on? At Regent Editing, we provide best possible support to doctoral students in achieving their aim. Spires Burn/Release EP in 2012, but it went pretty well, so I thought we’d do another round for 2014. The 2013 list covered demos, singles, EPs and splits — basically everything that’s not a full-length album — and the same rules apply here. It’s a pretty basic idea, but it makes sense to me to consider short releases apart from full-lengths because very often they’re trying to accomplish different things.

For example, if an album is trying to tell a story or describe a central theme, either blatantly in its lyrics or atmospherically through the music itself, a demo might just be the work of a band trying to feel their way into their sound. It doesn’t strike me as fair to judge the two on the same standard. Likewise, if a band releases a single, should that really be judged alongside an hour-long release? Granted, some bands’ singles actually are an hour long, but that’s another category entirely. “The ‘Dopesmoker’ Awards” will be handed out at another date.

No, not really. At least not this year.

If you didn’t see the full-albums Top 30 of 2014, please feel free to check it out and think of this and the year-end podcast as companion pieces, albeit both a little more casual. Let’s get to it:

sleepsingle

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2014

1. Sleep, The Clarity
2. Fatso Jetson/Herba Mate, Early Shapes
3. All Them Witches, Effervescent
4. Cortez/Borracho, Split 7″
5. Naam/White Hills/Black Rainbows/The Flying Eyes, 4-Way Split
6. Heavy Temple, Heavy Temple
7. Death Alley, Over Under/Dead Man’s Bones 7”
8. Geezer, Live! Full Tilt Boogie
9. The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues, The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues
10. Demon Head, Demo 2014
11. Gold & Silver, Azurite and Malachite
12. The Proselyte, Our Vessel’s in Need
13. Hull, Legend of the Swamp Goat
14. Lamp of the Universe/Krautzone, Split
15. The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, Through the Dark Matter
16. The Heavy Co., Uno Dose
17. Wren, Wren
18. He Whose Ox is Gored, Rumors 7”
19. Lewis and the Strange Magics, Demo
20. Godhunter/Secrets of the Sky, Gh/0st:s
21. Lord, Alive in Golgotha

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A couple notes: The Sleep single was a given. I don’t think anything could’ve topped it one way or another, even if I hadn’t listened to it 100 times since its release in July as part of the Adult Swim Singles Series. In any case, there was no debate about where to place it. You might notice on the other end the list goes to 21. I thought that being the element of chaos suited Lord well, and since I’m not entirely sure their Alive in Golgotha EP has been officially released, they warranted inclusion just in case.

One thing that struck me in putting this list together was the amount of splits included. You’ll notice Fatso Jetson and Herba Mate‘s Early Shapes right in behind Sleep. That one was an utter joy, as far as I’m concerned, and made me wish both of them would get on putting out full-lengths as soon as possible. Not far behind is Cortez and Borracho‘s split single, which had killer tracks from both bands, and the Naam/White Hills/Black Rainbows/The Flying Eyes split from Heavy Psych Sounds that, even with four bands involved, managed to keep a flowing atmosphere front to back, which was impressive enough in and of itself, never mind the individual contributions of those four acts, which were also top quality. The Krautzone/Lamp of the Universe split also provided a considerable psych blissout, and Godhunter‘s split/collaboration with Secrets of the Sky earned extra points for its adventurous spirit and the payoff its risk-taking brought to bear.

Like their Lightning at the Door LP, All Them Witches‘ Effervescent 25-minute jam figured heavily in my 2014 listening habits, as did Heavy Temple‘s self-titled debut EP. Dutch garage/heavy punkers Death Alley earned spins with their debut 7″, a lack of pretense in melding proto-thrash and heavy rock impulses allowing them to quickly find a niche that one hopes they continue to develop. Their debut single, along with Demon Head‘s Demo 2014 (and, indeed, that band’s follow-up single) and the Lewis and the Strange Magics demo were an allay to concerns retro-minded rock might be stagnating.

Geezer featured on the Short Releases list last year as well. I wasn’t sure what to do with their Gage 12″, since it was released in 2013 as an EP and 2014 as an LP, but either way, their Live! Full Tilt Boogie tape effortlessly recalled classic blues rock performances and demonstrated the fluid chemistry at work in the New York trio, I hope it’s not the last live release they do. Along similar bluesy lines, The Heavy Co.‘s Uno Dose found the Hoosier three-piece dipping into heavy jams more than their last full-length, and if that’s the direction they’re headed, you won’t hear me argue. Hailing from Sweden and arriving as an offshoot of Asteroid, the single-song EP from The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues had more than a touch of heavy blues to it too, and made me look forward to that project’s development from here on out.

There’s little I’m going to complain about less than hearing Ed Mundell bust out Miles Davis-inspired solos, so yeah, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic‘s Through the Dark Matter EP gets a nod. Impressive guitar work ran a current through Boston duo Gold & Silver‘s debut EP, Azurite and Malachite, but the proggy feel was what ultimately sold me on the two extended instrumentals included there, whereas with fellow Beantowners The Proselyte, it was the catchy songwriting and variety they showed in just four tracks. The He Whose Ox is Gored 7″ was likewise modern and satisfyingly weighted, though obviously shorter, and last but not at all least, the progressive sludge of Wren‘s self-titled EP seemed to fly under a lot of people’s radar but was a markedly individual take on a well established form that portended of good things to come.

As with everything, I’m sure there’s something in this mix that I forgot. If you’ve got a call you want to make on something, please let loose in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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Fatso Jetson & Herba Mate, Early Shapes Split: Tutta Forza

Posted in Reviews on August 18th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Intricate though it is, the jpeg cover art for Fatso Jetson and Herba Mate‘s Early Shapes split on Go Down Records does little justice to the physical reality of the finished product. Pressed to limited white vinyl with screenprinted covers or available in a gorgeous fold-out digi-box with fractal designs and liner notes printed on a kind of psychedelic gatefold, Early Shapes is impressive both to hold and to hear, comprising three tracks from the Californian desert legends and four from the Italian upstart trio. For Fatso Jetson — the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Mario Lalli (also of Yawning Man), guitarist Dino Von Lalli, bassist Larry Lalli and drummer Tony Tornay (now also playing with Brant Bjork) — it’s their second partnership with Italy’s Go Down Records, the first having been the limited run Live at Maximum Festival (review here) earlier this year, and their second recent split behind a 2013 collaboration with Yawning Man. In Herba Mate‘s case, Early Shapes is the first I’ve heard from them since their engagingly atmospheric 2009 debut, The Jellyfish is Dead and the Hurricane is Coming (review here), the Bolognese three-piece of bassist/vocalist Alessandro Trere, guitarist Andrea Barlotti and drummer Ermes Piancastelli having spent the last couple years playing shows and generally refining what was an already well-directed take on desert rock. Vinyl-ready at 38 minutes, Early Shapes is hypnotically jammed and sweetly melodic, the two acts not so much competing in the richness of what they do as celebrating the vibes they’re both so able to conjure musically. All the better for the front-to-back listen of the CD, which is consistent in its mood while still showcasing the distinct personalities of the two groups. Frankly, it’s a pairing that I thought would work well when I first heard about it and which works better than I anticipated.

They’re further tied together by the fact that both bands end their portion of Early Shapes with an eight-plus-minute (mostly) instrumental jam, and though Herba Mate‘s “Desert Inn II” feels more plotted than Fatso Jetson‘s “Nyquilt” — particularly because it complements and builds off “Desert Inn I,” which begins the trio’s side of the split — both resonate with an open creativity. Fatso Jetson‘s other inclusions, “Living all over You” and “Long Deep Breath” build on the notion of them not only as mainstays of the CA desert, but as an essential piece of that puzzle along with Yawning ManKyuss, and so on, both in sound and personnel. Mathias Schneeberger, who also recorded the opening duo, contributes Rhodes piano, and Adam Harding (Dumb Numbers) offers guitar and vocals to “Nyquilt,” while singer-songwriter Abby Travis guests vocally on “Long Deep Breath.” Gary Arce of Yawning Man is purported to also have contributed guitar to Fatso Jetson‘s tracks, and I’d going by the tone of “Long Deep Breath,” I’d believe it, but there’s no mention of him in the liner. Still, “Living all over You” begins the split with its most memorable push, a weighted groove unfolding topped by a serene, echoing vocal from Mario, far off from most of the jazzy spasms of Fatso Jetson‘s last full-length, 2010’s underrated Archaic Volumes (review here), but consistent stylistically with their past all the same and building to a satisfying apex before “Long Deep Breath” gets moving on the foundation of Tornay‘s drums, more open in atmosphere, but still cohesive, a chorus and bridge made even more gorgeous by Travis‘ voice joining Mario‘s before a buzzsaw solo takes hold. A mood only bolstered by “Nyquilt,” if this kind of inclusive, ambient spirit is where Fatso Jetson might be headed directionally for their next album, then it can’t get here fast enough. Perhaps most impressive about the tracks is that no matter where Fatso Jetson seem to head sound-wise, they still sound so distinctly like themselves, and they seem to be in full command of their aesthetic, not so much conforming to the desert rock style they helped create as taking those elements with them on a creative journey outside genre bounds.

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herba mate

It would be folly for Herba Mate to try to beat Fatso Jetson at their own game, but fortunately the three-piece are off on another trip. Trere is somewhat more aggressive vocally, but not by much, and the heavy roll that Herba Mate enact on “Desert Inn I” is pretty telling of what they have on offer in general, though following the original “Dance Dance Dance,” they surprise with a cover of Core‘s “Way Down,” adding tonal depth to the punkish ’90s heaviness of the New Jersey band’s original version. That and “Dance Dance Dance” are shorter, which accounts for Herba Mate‘s four tracks as opposed to Fatso Jetson‘s three, but the spirit of the material — which was captured live at Go Down‘s studio with some additional recording/mixing later — is fluid and engrossing, a sudden stop late in “Dance Dance Dance” being the only really jarring moment, and one clearly designed as such. Even the transition between the rush of “Way Down” and the languid heavy psych of “Desert Inn II” is natural, the latter feeling like the return to and expansion on the first installment that it is. Herba Mate‘s is a welcome return, and the jam-minded sensibilities, as well as the laid back approach they take to the release overall — including the Core cover seems to speak to an anything-goes mentality that suits them almost as much as the warm, organic production with which these songs are presented — speak to a confidence in what they’re doing that’s bound to serve them well as they move forward as much as it already serves them well here. I don’t know what either their plans or those of Fatso Jetson might be, but the quality of output from both bands makes Early Shapes feel like more than a simple stopgap en route to larger standalone releases, and whether one takes it as two distinct vinyl sides or listens straight through front-to-back to the CD, there’s really no interruption of flow, Herba Mate and Fatso Jetson pairing remarkably well for the sincerity of their approaches and the the immersion of what they create. It’s not often a release with two different bands recorded under multiple circumstances comes across as smoothly as Early Shapes, but there’s a likemindedness at root here that makes it barely a “split” at all.

Fatso Jetson & Herba Mate, Early Shapes teaser

Fatso Jetson on Thee Facebooks

Herba Mate on Thee Facebooks

Early Shapes at Go Down Records

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