Quarterly Review: Atomikylä, Sunnata, White Dynomite, Horehound, Sulfur Giant, New Planet Trampoline, Hypnos, Honky, Cheap Wine, Gurt & Trippy Wicked

Posted in Reviews on June 24th, 2016 by JJ Koczan


This one’s for all the marbles. Or at very least tiddlywinks. The last day of The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review begins. I’ll admit that when I was planning this out — started soon after the last Quarterly Review was finished in early April; that one ran late, this one has run early — I decided to take it easy on myself the last day. Still 10 reviews, so not that easy, but in terms of what’s included today, a lot of is stuff I feel pretty comfortable talking about, whether it’s bands I’ve covered before (which a lot of it is, now that I look at the list) or whatever. If you’ve been keeping up this week, thanks. I hope you found some cool music.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Atomikylä, Keräily

atomikyla Keraily

From the Finnish hotbed of Tampere, Atomikylä made a striking impression with their 2014 Svart Records debut, Erkale (review here), giving a take on psychedelic black metal that was immediately and truly their own in its balance of elements. The band, featuring members of Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu, return with doom-jazz fervor on sophomore full-length, Keräily, with three songs covering yet-unnamed stylistic reaches and offering a get-to-the-studio-and-see-what-happens experimentalism to go with their plotted course on 18-minute opener and longest track (bonus points) “Katkos,” which is followed by the building horn freakout “Risteily” (9:15), from which a space rock push takes hold on drums, resulting in maddening guitar swirl – because of course – and closer “Pakoputki” (6:55), which consumes with a darker thrust and more up-front blackened vibe that still holds onto some of the psychedelia in its layers of guitar. Keräily progresses effectively from Atomikylä’s debut and highlights just how individualized they are as a group. They continue to have the potential to do really special work, and the argument is easy to make they’re already doing it.

Atomikylä on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records

Sunnata, Zorya

sunnata zorya

As opener and longest track (bonus points) “Beasts of Prey” careens toward its apex finish near the 12-minute mark and the title-track begins is crashing, harmonized intro before moving into an Alice in Chains-via-stoner verse, the distance Poland’s Sunnata cover on their second full-length, Zorya, begins to really unveil itself. There doesn’t seem to be a genre within the heavy sphere that’s off limits. They never get into death metal, but heavy rock, doom, psychedelia, prog, sludge – it’s all in play at one point or another in Zorya’s five-track/50-minute run. The reason the album works and isn’t just a haphazard mash of styles is because Sunnata, who’ve been active in Warsaw since the last decade, make each one their own and thus bend genre to suit their purposes and not the other way around. They continue to impress through the rush of “Long Gone,” the airy expanse of “New Horizon” and the more brooding closer “Again and Against,” conjuring effective flow from what in less capable hands would be disparate components.

Sunnata on Thee Facebooks

Sunnata on Bandcamp

White Dynomite, Action O’Clock

white dynomite action oclock

I have kind of a hard time with White Dynomite. Not musically – the Boston five-piece’s new EP, Action O’Clock (on Ripple) typifies their accessible punk rock; a reminder of a time when the style used guitars – but conceptually. Their lineup features bassist Tim Catz and vocalist Craig Riggs (on drums) of Roadsaw, as well as guitarist Pete Knipfing (also Hey Zeus, Lamont), vocalist Dave Unger and guitarist John Darga, and while I can’t argue with the charm of a track like “Werewolf Underwear” or “Evil Ballerina” — the lyric “Tutu woman, too too much for me” alone makes Action O’Clock worth the price of admission, let alone “I got fangs in my pants” from “Werewolf Underwear” – but I haven’t yet been able to listen to the band in the context of it having been six years since the last time Roadsaw released an album, and thinking about years passing, priorities and whatnot. They sound they’re having a blast all the way through, and I won’t begrudge them exploring other influences, I guess I just miss that band.

White Dynomite on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Horehound, Horehound

horehound horehound

Pittsburgh newcomers Horehound formed just last year, so one might go into their self-titled debut full-length thinking it’s an early arrival, but in an unpretentious seven-track/33-minute collection of straightforward but engaging doom rockers, the five-piece demonstrate a clear idea of what they want to do sonically. While it may not represent where they’ll ultimately end up as a band, its songs sound fleshed out in terms of direction and the resultant feel on the release is much more album than demo. So be it. A particular highlight is “The Waters of Lethe,” on which a sweeter melody emerges in the guitar and vocals, but neither will I discount the low-end crunch and vocal call-and-response in closer “Waking Time” or the more uptempo thrust of second cut “Sangreal.” Not that Horehound don’t have room to grow, but their initial offering preaches well to the converted and should give them a solid foundation to work from in that process.

Horehound on Thee Facebooks

Horehound on Bandcamp

Sulfur Giant, Beyond the Hollow Mountain

sulfur giant beyond the hollow mountain

Beyond the Hollow Mountain is the first full-length from Portuguese mostly-instrumentalists Sulfur Giant, who bring together influences from classic progressive rock, psychedelia and heavy rock so that when they dip into Iommic riffing on “Vertigo,” it’s no stranger than the peaceful jamming of “Whisper at Dawn,” which follows. Friendly if not exactly innovative, Sulfur Giant’s debut makes its chief impression with the four-piece’s instrumental chemistry, which brings about an easy flow within and between the eight tracks, which having already been issued digitally will see vinyl release later this year on Pink Tank Records. It’s hard to ignore what organ adds to “Evermore,” but “Sea of Stone” sneaks in some vocals amid its thicker-riffing and Sungrazer-style exploration, and “Magnolia” and the galloping “Unleash Fears” follow suit, so Sulfur Giant have a few tricks up their collective sleeve they hold back from the initial roll and gallop of the opening title-track. All the better.

Sulfur Giant on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records

New Planet Trampoline, Dark Rides and Grim Visions

new planet trampoline dark rides and grim visions

Never say never in rock and roll. From Cleveland, Ohio, the psych-rocking four-piece New Planet Trampoline called it quits in 2008, leaving behind an unfinished album. After coming back together for 2014’s The Wisconsin Witch House EP, the ‘60s-stylized outfit set themselves to the task of finishing what became Dark Rides and Grim Visions, basking in the glow of early Floyd, Beatles and others of the ilk while keeping a harder edge to songs like “Grim Visions” and a healthy cynicism to “We’ll Get What We Deserve” and the tongue-in-cheek keyboard-laced closer “Haunted as Fuck.” Of the several more extended tracks, the nine-minute “Acts of Mania” is the longest, and provides suitable patience and atmospherics to stand up to its scope. All told, Dark Rides and Grim Visions is a formidable journey at 13 songs/68 minutes, but after more than half a decade away, it’s hard to hold New Planet Trampoline having their say against them, particularly when that say is as lush and dreamy as “This is the Morning.”

New Planet Trampoline on Thee Facebooks

New Planet Trampoline on Bandcamp

Hypnos, Cold Winds

hypnos cold winds

With their second LP, Cold Winds (on Crusher Records), Gothenburg’s Hypnos seem to be betting that the next step in the retro game is NWOBHM. They make a convincing argument; it’s kind of how it went the first time around, and their songwriting offers a top-notch look at the moment where Thin Lizzy bounce became Iron Maiden gallop, as on second cut “I’m on the Run,” just minutes after opener “Start the Hunt” featured a flute solo. Broken into two sides, each one works its way toward a longer finale – “Det Kommer en Dag” (7:23) on side A and “1800” (8:32) on side B – but sonic diversity and changes in song structure throughout do much to keep Cold Winds from feeling overly plotted, and like their countrymen in Horisont, Hypnos offer a seamless melding of classic heavy rock and metal, soaring and scorching on “Descending Sun (Unrootables White)” and swinging and swaggering immediately thereafter on “Cold September,” both accomplished with unwavering command.

Hypnos on Thee Facebooks

Hypnos at Crusher Records

Honky, Corduroy

honky corduroy

Texas boogie rockers Honky were last heard from with 2012’s 421 – which I’ll assume is the “going to 11” equivalent for getting high – and their eighth outing, Corduroy, finds bassist JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers, Melvins) and guitarist Bobby Ed Landgraf (Down) hooked up with drummer Trinidad Leal of Dixie Witch and Housecore Records for the release. To call is business as usual for the underrated outfit in the classic swing and grit they hone would only be a compliment, songs like “Baby Don’t Slow Down,” “Bad Stones” and the harmonized “Double Fine” offering soul as much as push, ‘70s influences given a modern kick in the ass throughout as a swath of guests, including Melvins drummer Dale Crover, come and go, perhaps none making their presence felt as much as Rae Comeau, whose work on “Bad Stones” makes that song a highlight – not to take away from the a capella cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” here retitled as “Mopey Dick,” that closes. Chicanery ensues, booze flows, good times are had for those who’ll have them.

Honky website

Housecore Records website

Cheap Wine, Sad Queen

cheap wine sad queen

Distinguished as on centerpiece “The Rambler” by their use of organ amid a semi-retro heavy boogie style, French five-piece Cheap Wine recorded Sad Queen – as the cover art says – live for Celebration Days Records. It’s somewhere between an EP and album, and strips away some of the individual track length of their 2013 debut, Mystic Crow, in favor of maximizing the energy put into each piece, the subdued “Intro” and “Opening” that start sides A and B, respectively, aside, though as “Opening” feeds cleanly into the quiet, airy and soulful beginning of the title-track, even that seems to have a tension that builds toward its eventual release, different from the shuffling raucousness of the post-“Intro” opener “Cyclothymic” maybe, but palpable nonetheless. They close somewhat melancholy on “Yesterday’s Dream,” but the complementary guitar of Valentin Constestin and keys of Ahn Tuan aren’t to be missed, nor how well work in concert with vocalist Mathieu Devillers, bassist Valentin Lallart and drummer Louis Morati.

Cheap Wine on Thee Facebooks

Celebration Days Records website

Gurt & Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Guppy

gurt trippy wicked guppy

The UK heavy scene excels at not taking itself too seriously. To wit, Gurt and Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight get together for a split (on When Planets Collide for CD and HeviSike cassette) and, they call it Guppy and the first two songs are “Owlmegeddon” and “Super Fun Happy Slide.” It kind of goes from there. Recorded together, sharing a drummer and collaborating on the centerpiece, “Revolting Child,” it’s basically two outfits who are close friends coming together to have a good time, but that doesn’t take away from Gurt’s sludgy intensity on “I Regret Nothing” or the nodding heavy rock Trippy Wicked hold forth on closer “Reign.” Taking its title from the two band names put together, one can only wonder if this will be the last conjoined offering Gurt and Trippy Wicked will make, or if there might be a whole school of guppies in the future. Frankly, this sounds like too good a party to only throw it once.

Gurt on Thee Facebooks

Trippy Wicked on Thee Facebooks

When Planets Collide website

HeviSike Records

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Honky Confirm May 27 Release for Corduroy

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 10th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Last time we heard from Austin boogie-hard-and-boogie-all-the-time three-piece Honky, they were announcing a UK tour to be performed this July/August in the burly company of Desert Storm. As the PR wire now confirms, their first album in four years, Corduroy, will be out May 27 via Housecore Records. The record finds the band joined by Dixie Witch‘s Trinidad Leal on drums, which if that doesn’t mean anything to you, should. If Dixie Witch were putting out the albums today that they were putting out 10-15 years ago, you can bet your ass you’d know who they were. As it stands, like Honky, they’re way underrated, so in addition to being ass-kicking Texan heavy rockers, it’s a good fit on multiple levels.

The new song “Outta Season” is streaming in advance of the album release, and you’ll find it under the info below. Enjoy:


HONKY: Long-Running Austin-Based Superboogie Trio Featuring Butthole Surfers, Melvins, Down, And Dixie Witch Alumni To Release Corduroy Full-Length This Month; New Track Posted

When you think of Texas, what comes to mind? Big skies? Big trucks? Hot women with big… hair? Everything, as they say, is bigger in Texas… And that what ain’t bigger is more bizarre. After all, in a state that refers to itself as a republic, things can get pretty skewed.

Enter HONKY, who proudly carries the torch held by the likes of Bloodrock, Pantera, ZZ Top and the red-headed stranger himself, Mr. Willie Nelson. This Austin superboogie trio was founded in 1996 by long time Butthole Surfer/part time Melvins bassist JD Pinkus, Bobby Ed Landgraf (Down, Skrew, …) on guitar, and Trinidad Leal (Dixie Witch) on them skins. Together the riff-rocking three-some have released some of the best stripped down, butt-shakin’, rock ever cut to wax, tape, or CD and have toured with the likes of Nashville Pussy, the Reverend Horton Heat, Fu Manchu, Melvins, Peter Pan Speedrock, Down, and David Allan Coe.

HONKY’s newest release (and eighth overall!) entitled Corduroy is another feast of down and dirty rock, rollin’ across the finish line on May 27th via on Philip Anselmo’s Housecore Records. Boasting nine tracks thick enough to eat with a fork but you’ll wanna keep a spoon handy so ya don’t miss out on that gravy, Corduroy was produced by JD Pinkus and mastered by Paul Leary with artwork and layout by Ryan Everett. Drum duties were handled by a more-than-qualified group of drummers, including Leal, Michael “Night Train” Brueggen (Blackula, Syrup, Supagroup), Dale Crover (Melvins), and even original HONKY drummer, Lance Farley, all makin’ the grooves proper. Guest appearances include Mark “Speedy” Gonzales and the Fantasma Horns, as well as the band’s favorite Honkette, Rae Comeau.

Corduroy Track Listing:
1. Corduroy
2. Baby Don’t Slow Down
3. Outta Season
4. Bad Stones
5. Ain’t Got The Time
6. Double Fine
7. Snortin’ Whiskey
8. I Don’t Care
9. Mopey Dick

Get down with HONKY live on their upcoming Texas and UK dates with additional live performances to be announced soon.

HONKY with Desert Storm:
6/11/2016 R.O.T. Rally @ Cowboy Harley-Davidson – Austin, TX
7/08/2016 Boneshakers – Corpus Cristi, TX
7/09/2016 White Oak Music Hall – Houston, TX
7/26/2016 Portland Arms – Cambridge, UK
7/27/2016 The Cavern – Exeter, UK
7/28/2016 The Underworld – London, UK
7/29/2016 The Bullingdon – Oxford, UK
7/30/2016 Red Sun Festival – Cardiff, UK
7/31/2016 Craufurd Arms – Milton Keynes, UK
8/01/2016 Exchange – Bristol, UK
8/02/2016 The Iron Road – Evesham, UK
8/03/2016 Arches Venue – Coventry, UK
8/04/2016 The Anvil – Bournemouth, UK


Honky, “Outta Season”

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Honky and Desert Storm Announce Summer UK Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Austin heavy rockers Honky released their last album, 421, in 2012, but they’ve linked up with Housecore Records for the follow-up, Corduroy, which is due out this spring, and to herald the new release, they’ll be heading over to the UK to tour with Desert Storm, who as previously announced have a new 7″ split out in April with Suns of Thunder via H42 Records. Last I saw Honky was with Fu Manchu in New York nearly half a decade ago (review here), but they certainly kicked ass then, and having also seen him play before, I have severe doubts the addition of Dixie Witch drummer Trinidad Leal to the lineup will have done anything to diminish that.

Leal is one of a number of guests joining founder JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers) and bassist Bobby Ed Landgraf (Down) on the record, as the info below details:

honky desert storm tour

Honky proudly carries the torch held by the likes of Bloodrock, Pantera, ZZ Top and the red-headed stranger himself, Mr. Willie Nelson.

This Austin Superboogie trio was founded in 1996 by long time Butthole Surfer, part time MELVINS bassist JD Pinkus, Bobby Ed Landgraf (DOWN, Skrew) on guitar, and rounded out by Trinidad Leal (Dixie Witch) on them skins.

Honky dishes out an appetite pleasin’ Superboogie servin’ that’ll keep ya’ comin’ back for more. Austin’s favorite sons have released some of the best stripped down, butt shakin’, rock ever cut to Wax, Tape, or CD, and have toured with the likes of Nashville Pussy, the Reverend Horton Heat, Fu Manchu, Melvins, Peter Pan Speedrock, Down, and David Allan Coe.

Honky’s newest release, Corduroy, is another feast of down and dirty rock, rollin’ across the finish line late this Spring on Philip Anselmo’s Housecore Records. Thick enough to eat with a fork but you’ll wanna keep a spoon handy so ya don’t miss out on that gravy… Drum duties are handled by a more then qualified group of drummers, Trinidad Leal (Dixie Witch), Michael ‘Night Train’ Brueggen (Blackula, Syrup, Supagroup), Dale Crover (Melvins), and even Original Honky drummer, Lance Farley, makin’ the grooves proper… Guest appearances by Mark ‘Speedy’ Gonzales and the Fantasma Horns, as well as, our favorite Honkette, Rae Comeau, add to the tastees thrown y’alls’ way.

Honky/Desert Storm UK Tour July/Aug 2016:
07.26 Cambridge Portland Arms
07.27 Exeter The Cavern
07.28 London The Underworld
07.29 Oxford The Bullingdon
07.30 Cardiff Red Sun Festival
07.31 Milton Keynes Craufurd Arms
08.01 Bristol Exchange
08.02 Evesham The Iron Road
08.03 Coventry The Arches
08.04 Bournemouth The Anvil


Honky, “WFO” official video

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Live Review: Fu Manchu, Honky and The Shrine in Manhattan, 11.15.11

Posted in Reviews on November 16th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Less than 24 hours after Michael Bloomberg gave an unceremonious middle-of-the-night boot to the protestors at Occupy Wall Street, I parked just blocks away from where the tumult had taken place (by all reports, the Occupiers were back in Zuccotti Park by then) and made my way around the corner to Santos Party House to catch Fu Manchu playing their In Search Of… record in its entirety. It was my third time at the NYC venue this year — see Orange Goblin, see Weedeater — and like at those two shows, I was surprised immediately at how crowded it was. There was a line outside before the doors opened.

I don’t know if that means Santos generally pulls people in, or if there’s something happening around heavy rock that no one told me about — always the last to know — but people milled about early waiting for SoCal trio The Shrine to open he night, and if I didn’t know better, I’d say it looked like a happening scene. Pretty sure it wasn’t sold out, but the room was certainly full for both Honky and even more so for Fu Manchu, and what’s more, people knew the songs. The crowd wasn’t just hipsters, though some of that element was there, and young and old, everyone seemed to be there for the music. I don’t remember the last time I left a show in New York feeling that way.

There was something liberating in flying blind into The Shrine‘s set. I didn’t even know they were from California until I heard them tell someone else on line outside as they stood in front of their van — I had somehow just figured they were local, and perhaps on the bill as a last-minute Brooklynite replacement for Naam, who were too busy preparing for their European tour with Black Rainbows to make it down. That’s what I get for assuming.

Watching them play was like seeing the future of Volcom. They were the youngest act of the night and played like it — the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Josh Landau, bassist Courtland Murphy and drummer Jeff Murray — were excited and excitable. There was enough punkish energy and immediacy in their songs to offset the riffy ’70s swagger, and one of their songs started out so charmingly Sabbathian that I thought of fellow Californians Orchid, who seem to be the reigning American champs for that type of thing. I don’t know if I’d check it out every week, but I wanted to buy their 7″, didn’t, and was disappointed later for not.

In a fantastic bout of self-bargaining, I’d decided to allow myself three beers on the night. I’m on a self-imposed, much-needed dry-out, and anyway, had to drive home when the show was over. So three beers. Three beers for three bands. I’d already had two by the time Honky went on.

Somehow though, in the midst of all Honky‘s Texan charm — two out of the three of them in cowboy hats, they said they were from, “London, Eng-land” and bemoaned the cost of beer — I managed to keep to my limit. And Honky, who haven’t had a record out since 2005’s Balls Out Inn, killed. They served as an excellent transition into the good-times but still ultra-heavy sounds Fu Manchu would elicit, and by the time they were through the first song, I don’t think there was a head there who wasn’t aboard for what they were doing.

Bassist J.D. Pinkus and guitarist Bobby Ed led the charge on vocals, and drummer Justin Collins made sure that as out of hand as things got, they never actually were. Hats were tipped, drinks were sipped: It was boozy, Southern and heavy, and stoic as New Yorker crowds are, Honky was a lot of fun. Last time I saw them was in their native Austin, Texas, and they weren’t in their element at Santos like they were then, but they weren’t far off. PinkusButthole Surfers bandmate Gibby Haynes stood on the side of the stage and watched them play, bobbing and smiling with glee as they tore their setlist a new asshole.

These things happened: They sent “Plugs, Mugs, Jugs” out to “Handsome” Joel Svatek, who worked the door at Emo’s in Austin until he was struck by a drunk driver in 2003 (Arclight Records released a tribute in his honor that Honky was featured on along with Mastodon, Amplified Heat, SuperHeavyGoatAss and two discs’ worth of others), covered Pat Travers‘ “Snortin’ Whiskey,” and brought out Fu Manchu guitarist Bob Balch to close out a solo during “Love to Smoke Your Weed,” Bobby Ed‘s slide guitar putting in some good work beforehand. They were like ZZ Top without any of that pesky class. It was lots — and I mean lots — of fun.

Ditto that for the Fu, who ran through some swift foreplay with “Hell on Wheels,” “Open Your Eyes,” “Boogie Van” and “Evil Eye” before getting down to business with In Search Of… front to back. They were tight, just about all the stops dead on, and it was excellent to hear the songs run into each other differently on stage than on the record, big rock finishes and so forth. “Regal Begal” got things under way, and they went onward to glory. I thought my head would explode halfway through “Neptune’s Convoy.” It was fucking awesome.

The hazard, though, of the complete-album gig is that sometimes there’s some filler, and Fu Manchu have had their share over the years. Some of those songs toward the end of In Search Of... are cool and all, but there’s a reason they’re back there and “Asphalt Risin'” is up front. Still, they kept the crowd with them. Scott Hill was pretty much shouting his vocals by the end, which ruled and underscored his Cali-punk roots, and I don’t know how he did it, but bassist Brad Davis looked like he barely broke a sweat. Dude’s riding some of the fattest grooves ever — period — and to look at him, he could be folding laundry. It’s like he lives in the pocket. It was a sight to behold.

And a sound to hear. Fu Manchu have had some serious players in their lineup over the years. Brant Bjork on drums comes to mind, and guitarist Eddie Glass and drummer Ruben Romano who both played on In Search Of… went on to form Nebula. But Bob Balch nailed those solos and added his own flavor to both them and each one of those landmark riffs, and on the purported occasion of his birthday (or so Hill said when telling everyone in the room to buy him shots; he wound up with eight), drummer Scott Reeder was smooth where he needed to be and pushed those older songs further than I thought they could go.

Only bummer was that as “Supershooter” capped the regular set and the band came back out for a two-song encore of “Weird Beard” and “Godzilla,” they didn’t play any material less than a decade old. I know a lot of bands I only wish would do that, but it might have been cool to have one song from either Signs of Infinite Power or We Must Obey. No time, I guess.

Nevertheless, Honky came back out for the rousing take on “Godzilla” that served as just one more reminder of how killer the show had actually been. The melee finished right around midnight, which I can only assume was curfew for Santos, and Fu Manchu sent us poor, hapless souls out into the NYC rain; a long, long way from the Californian sunshine that seems to emanate from their stalwart fuzz pedals.

Good people, classic tunes, good times. I popped open my laptop in my car to get the pictures off my camera on my trip back to the valley, in some misguided effort to save some time for today. It didn’t work out, but whatever. Extra pics are after the jump, as always. Special thanks to SabbathJeff for reviewing the show on the forum.

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