Video Premiere: Kind, “Faster Number Two” From ONCE Sound Stage Session

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

kind faster number two

read here ONCE Ballroom, like far too many venues in this wretched country that does far too little to support its own arts and culture — #saveourstages — has had to close its doors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike many others, however, the tenacity and raw passion of venuerunner source url JJ Gonson (yes, another JJ; they are rare but not unheard of) and those around her has resulted in the Writing a conclusion for kids - top 10 resume writing services Homepage To An Essay literary analysis essay on 1984 dissertation student room ONCE Virtual Venue, which has to this point used the space to put on COVID-safe streaming gigs and played host to a series of shows and interviews, including one recently with myself.

On Saturday at 8PM — remember when shows started at night? — the http://www.ot-carnac.fr/cake-business-plan/ - Writing a custom paper is go through a lot of stages Order the necessary coursework here and forget about your worries ONCE Sound Stage Sessions series filmed at the venue will present a “gig” with http://www.pts-fuegen.tsn.at/online-dissertation-and-thesis-write/s Ghostwriting Australia Ghost writers Brisbane Ghostwriter Gold Coast Ghostwriting fees How do I find a ghostwriter for my book Kind, The world leader in online proofreading and I Hate Writing Essayss. Our professional team has revised documents for +5,000 clients in +90 countries. Set Fire, If you decide to follow the ďwhy http://www.panaceo.de/how-to-do-a-research/Ē attitude, you will lack the knowledge that you are supposed to have. 4. You Get to Know What ďResponsibilityĒ Is. Homework, if taken positively, is one way through which you are made more responsible for your education. Friendship Commanders and Professional Thesis Writing Service will Help you with Your Thesis or Dissertation Online. Hire an Expert PhD http://lafabrique.montreuil.fr/how-to-write-a-personal-statement-for-college-application/er to write, edit, correct or Inhalement. Four bands, each offering a streamed set, and Essay Easy I is an 8-week online business writing course. If you want to improve your business writing skills, then this course is ideal for you! Kind are giving a preview of what’s to come in their three-song-set-the-audio-of-which-they-should-probably-release-as-a-live-EP-for-Bandcamp-Friday with the video below for “Faster Number Two.” I know it was 2020 and that was 15 lifetimes ago, but you might recall their second album, Are you looking for dynamic & compelling content from a UK cat writer & http://russianchicagomag.com/who-does-assignments/ with an international client base? contact@emilyfowlerwrites.com. Mental Nudge (review here), came out back in September on virtual homework helper Cad Assignment Help dissertation writers online college essay ivy league Ripple and was frickin’ great.

I’ll keep this short because there are links below worth clicking, but hell, if you don’t want to see more after watching the mostly-masked performance below — Do my assignment for me service, Pay Social Work Courses Online Australia Australia. We are here in the market as a one-stop shop. Brilliant Essays. Craig Riggs pulls his down to sing, drummer Our PhD research Solar Installation Business Plan can help you complete your work fast and according to all the requirements. Get a custom research proposal for PhD. Matt Couto‘s swinging style results in his falling below his nose, while If you have decided to let Dissertation Work us perform your Do My Algebra Homework request ďdo my algebra, math or physics homework for meĒ, let Tom Corino and proposal and dissertation help gantt chart Acknowledgement Of Phd Thesis dissertation sur le cinema dissertation que desire t on Darryl Shepard stay masked on the flanks, playing bass and guitar, respectively — I don’t know what to tell you. But just to lay on an appropriate guilt trip, ONCE is worth supporting with a donation. Because fuck rent.

Enjoy the video:

Kind, “Faster Number Two” ONCE Sound Stage Session premiere

In May of 2020 ONCE Somerville, an independent venue in the Boston Metro area, decided to launch a “virtual venue”. The venue was started in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the massive amount of cancellations that occurred in the wake of stay at home order. ONCE VV is a place for audiences to interact and enjoy performances that range to suit all sorts of palates.

In June, the ONCE VV team began filming live sessions on the venue’s ballroom stage. Dubbed the ONCE Sound Stage Sessions, these sessions provided artists with a rare opportunity to play on a stage again for the first time since music venues shut down. Between June and December of 2020, over 25 performances were filmed on the ONCE ballroom and lounge stages.

In December, ONCE had to leave its physical space due to financial realities of the ongoing pandemic. But the ONCE VV team remains committed to producing original content and virtual events throughout 2021, made possible by a generous NIVA grant.

Show Youtube link (anyone can watch live):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UIffE2MHLo&ab_channel=ONCEVirtualVenue

Ticket Link (allows attendees to donate, and the option to join the Zoom event):
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/134906375601

Show details:
KIND, Set Fire, Friendship Commanders (Nashville, TN), Inhalement
Presented by Grayskull Booking, Treebeard Media, Dead Moon Audio, and ONCE Sound Stage
Hosted by Laura from Metal Night
Saturday, January 16, 8pm

Kind, Mental Nudge (2020)

ONCE Virtual Venue Linktree

Kind on Thee Facebooks

Kind on Instagram

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2020

Posted in Features on December 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

london-news-etching-1854-newcastle-upon-tyne

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Invariably, the ultimate measure of 2020 will be in lives and livelihoods lost around the world. I have nothing to add to the discourse of the COVID-19 pandemic that others haven’t said in more articulate and precise language. Suffice it to note that 2020 was the year that the very concept of “unprecedented” itself became trite.

One does not have to look far to find positives amid the devastation. Creativity continues to flourish. Art cannot be killed. Even locked away from each other in quarantine, artists will continue to reach out, to collaborate, to fulfill the human need for expression that has driven the species since cave drawings and will no doubt be the ruins we leave behind us when we’re gone.

In underground music, it was simply overwhelming. And though I’ll admit it was hard at times to listen to music and divorce it from the larger context of what was happening in the world — it was there like a background buzz — this year reinforced how necessary music is, not only as an escape or a source of income for those who make/promote it, but as an integral component of life and community. Absences have been keenly felt.

I won’t try to sate you with platitudes, to say “things will get better.” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. One year turning to the next does not fix broken systems and it does not cure raging plagues. It’s just a number. Arbitrary except as a convenient marker for things like this, births, deaths, and so on. Bookkeeping.

Before I turn you over to the lists: Please be kind in the comments if you choose to leave one. To me. To other people. To yourself. These lists are culled from my listening preference and what I consider of critical importance. But I’m one person. If there’s something you feel has been left out, say so. I ask you only to do so in a spirit of friendship rather than argument. Thank you in advance.

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Okay:

The Top 50 Albums of 2020

#50-31

50. Sun Crow, Quest for Oblivion
49. Atramentus, Stygian
48. Arcadian Child, Protopsycho
47. Fuzz, III
46. Jointhugger, I Am No One
45. Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
44. Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns
43. Foot, The Balance of Nature Shifted
42. Hymn, Breach Us
41. IAH, III
40. Lord Fowl, Glorious Babylon
39. Acid Mess, Sangre de Otros Mundos
38. 1000mods, Youth of Dissent
37. Deathwhite, Grave Image
36. Soldati, Doom Nacional
35. Cortez, Sell the Future
34. Kadavar, The Isolation Tapes
33. Black Rainbows, Cosmic Ritual Supertrip
32. Shadow Witch, Under the Shadow of a Witch
31. Insect Ark, The Vanishing

Notes: To say nothing of the honorable mentions that follow the rest of the list below, immediately we see the problem of so-many-albums-not-enough-space. People talk about a top 50 as ridiculous, like there’s no way you can like that much music. Bullshit. I agonized over how to fit Sun Crow on this list because their¬†Quest for Oblivion felt like it deserved to be here. Ditto that for Arcadian Child. And the achievements of bands like Kadavar, 1000mods and Switchblade Jesus and Insect Ark in breaking the boundaries of their own aesthetics deserve every accolade they can get, and likewise those who progressed in their sound like Cortez, Shadow Witch, Lord Fowl, Hymn, Foot, Black Rainbows, Deathwhite and IAH. Add to that the debuts from Atramentus, Dirt Woman, Jointhugger, Acid Mess and Sergio Ch.’s Soldati, and you’ve got a batch of 20 records — some born of this year’s malaise, some working in spite of it — that vary in sound but are working to push their respective styles to new places one way or the other.

30. High Priestess, Casting the Circle

high priestess casting the circle

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed May 5.

There was no shortage of anticipation for what L.A. cultists High Priestess would do to follow their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and the three-piece did not disappoint, instead gave a ritual mass that included the 17-minute concept piece “Invocation” alongside infectious and ethereal melodies like “The Hourglass.” And now that the circle’s been cast? Seems like they can do anything.

29. Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Oct. 12.

High-powered cosmic metal from Finland pulling apart heavy psychedelia on an atomic level with an urgency that speaks of youth, progress and an ingrained need for exploration? Sign me up. A lot of bands on this list put out their first album this year. There are few for whom my hopes are as high as they are for Polymoon.¬†If you haven’t yet heard Caterpillars of Creation, do.

28. Sons of Otis, Isolation

Sons of Otis Isolation

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Sept. 30.

Of the sundry horrors 2020 wrought, a new album from long-running Toronto three-piece Sons of Otis was an unexpected positive, and their ultra-spaced, murky riffs on their first studio album since 2012’s Seismic (review here, also here) launched like a slow-motion escape pod of righteous doom (s)tonality. There will never be another¬†Sons of Otis. Be thankful for everything you get from them.

27. Lamp of the Universe, Dead Shrine

Lamp of the Universe Dead Shrine

Released by Projection Records. Reviewed May 25.

Organ, Mellotron, sitar, acoustic and electric guitars, various percussion elements, and of course the inimitable fragility in Craig Williamson‘s voice itself — the ingredients for Lamp of the Universe‘s Dead Shrine were familiar enough for those familiar with the one-man outfit running more than two decades, but the lush acid folk created remains a standout the world over. Dead Shrine was a much-needed gift of peace and meditation.

26. BleakHeart, Dream Griever

bleakheart dream griever

Released by Sailor Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

The debut album from Colorado’s BleakHeart collected pieces united by melody and overarching atmosphere, positioned stylistically somewhere around heavygaze or heavy post-rock, but feeling less limited to genre bounds than some others working in a similar sphere. As a first outing, it brought a promise of things to come even as the depths of its mix seemed to swallow the listener entirely, equal parts serving claustrophobia and escapism.

25. Pale Divine, Consequence of Time

Pale Divine Consequence of Time

Released by Cruz Del Sur Music. Reviewed June 3.

There is not enough space here to properly commend Pale Divine founding guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener on how much he opened up the band by bringing in his and drummer Darin McCloskey‘s former Beelzefuzz bandmate Dana Ortt on shared guitar, vocal and songwriting duties. Completed by Ron “Fezz” McGinnis on bass/vocals, Pale Divine are a refreshed and ready powerhouse of American traditional doom.

24. Uncle Woe, Phantomescence

uncle woe phantomescence

Released by Packard Black Productions. Reviewed Oct. 21.

One is going to have to get used to the idea of Uncle Woe residing in the places between, I think. An inward-looking cosmic doom that’s likewise morose and reaching, opaque and translucent, Phantomescence could be almost troubling in its feeling of off-kilter expression. Yet that’s exactly what multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rain Fice was going for. Thriving on contradiction, exploratory, and individualized. Start from doom, move outward.

23. REZN, Chaotic Divine

rezn chaotic divine

Released by Off the Record Label. Reviewed Oct. 15.

I don’t feel like I’m cool enough to offer any substantive comment on what Chicago’s REZN do, but their sax-laced heavy psychedelia comes across warm and is invitingly languid while still delivered with a sense of energy and purpose. It rolls and you want to roll with it, so you do. They were clearly hurt by not being able to tour this year, as were audiences for not seeing them. Call them neo-stoner metal or whatever you want, these songs deserve to be played live.

22. Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle

ruff majik the devils cattle

Released by Mongrel Records. Reviewed Oct. 29.

A revamped lineup for South African desert-ish heavy rockers Ruff Majik brought producer Evert Snyman in as co-conspirator with frontman/principal songwriter Johni Holiday, and found the former trio working as a five-piece with a broader sound underscored by an electric sense of purpose and willingness to push themselves to places they hadn’t gone before. Their third record, it seemed as well to be a new beginning, and they met the challenge head-on.

21. Curse the Son, Excruciation

Curse The Son Excruciation

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 8.

The underheralded children of rolling fuzz riffage, Connecticut’s Curse the Son found new depths of emotion to bring to Excruciation — and I do mean “depths.” Dark times for dark times. Fueled by personal hardship, turmoil, motorcycle accidents and a pervasive sense of struggle, the LP was nonetheless a triumph of their songwriting and brought new melodic character to their established largesse of tone. Your loss if you missed it.

20. The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio

The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 26.

Business as usual in ferocious heavy/speed rock from The Atomic Bitchwax on Scorpio — and that was only reassuring since the band’s eighth full-length marked the first since the departure of guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and his replacing with Garrett Sweeny, a bandmate of founding bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella in Monster Magnet. They barely stopped to cool their heels and yet still managed to be catchy as hell. How do they do it? Jersey Magic.

19. Cinder Well, No Summer

cinder well no summer

Released by Free Dirt Records. Reviewed July 21.

Such pervasive melancholy could only be derived from Irish folk, and so it was on Cinder Well‘s No Summer, which managed to move between singer-songwriter minimalism from Amelia Baker and arrangements of deceptive and purposeful intricacy. Wherever it went, from traditional songs “Wandering Boy” and “The Cuckoo” to originals like “Fallen” and the nine-minute “Our Lady’s,” it was equal parts gorgeous and sad and resonant. It remains so, despite the fleeting season.

18. Pallbearer, Forgotten Days

pallbearer forgotten days

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Dec. 24.

Their fourth album and first since crossing the decade-mark since their inception, Pallbearer‘s Forgotten Days wasn’t just heavy, emotional or big-sounding; it was the most their-own of anything they’ve done. It felt exactly like the record they wanted it to be, and reconfirmed that the generation of listeners being introduced to doom by their music is going to be just fine if they follow the cues laid out for them here.

17. Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

Released by Stolen Body and Vicious Circle Records. Reviewed March 26.

Less a reinvention of space rock than a kick in its ass, Slift‘s Ummon pushed well past the line of manageability at 72 minutes and reveled in that. The French outfit were greeted as liberators when they released the album, and with the way the respect has been maintained in the months since they’ve given themselves a high standard to meet, but there’s only promise to be heard as you get lost in the nebular wash of this sprawling 2LP. They’ll have two more records out before this one’s fully digested.

16. My Dying Bride, The Ghost of Orion

my dying bride the ghost of orion

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Feb. 25.

The first album in half a decade from long-established UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride found vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe coping with his daughter’s cancer diagnosis and translating that into the morose poetry for which the band is so well known and with which they’ve been so influential. My Dying Bride has never wanted for sincerity, but to call them affecting here would be underselling the quality of their craft and the heart they put into it. Follow-up EP is already out with extra non-album tracks.

15. Causa Sui, Szabodelico

causa sui Szabodelico

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Nov. 11.

Denmark’s Causa Sui may be on a mission to unite jazz and heavy psychedelia — and blessings on them for that — but the mellow jammy vibes they conjured on Szabodelico only emphasized how much it’s the character of what they do and the chemistry they’ve brought as bandmates that has allowed them to branch thusly in terms of aesthetic. It was the kind of album you wanted to put on again even before it was over, and its sweet instrumentals felt born to a greater timeline than a single year can encompass.

14. All Souls, Songs for the End of the World

All Souls Songs for the End of the World

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 21.

I’m not a punk rocker, but All Souls make me wish I was. Their emotive and engaged heavy rock looks out as much as in on Songs for the End of the World — their second LP behind a 2018 self-titled debut (review here) — but it’s undeniably punk in its foundation, and what the four-piece of¬†Antonio Aguilar¬†and¬†Meg Castellanos (both ex-Totimoshi), Erik Trammell¬†(Black Elk) and¬†Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson) have put together builds on that in exciting, inventive and individualized ways, while staying nonetheless true to its roots.

13. Kind, Mental Nudge

kind mental nudge

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 20.

Five years after their debut album,¬†Rocket Science¬†(review here), Boston four-piece¬†Kind¬†return with¬†Mental Nudge. And despite the different situations in which it finds the band’s members — bassist¬†Tom Corino is now ex-Rozamov, drummer¬†Matt Couto now ex-Elder — the group’s focus remains on carving memorable, mostly structured tracks out of ethereal heavy psychedelia, guitarist¬†Darryl Shepard (Milligram, etc.) and vocalist Craig Riggs (Roadsaw,¬†Sasquatch, etc.) adding space and melody to the crunching, driving grooves.

12. Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Released by Season of Mist. Featured Aug. 17.

Founded by vocalist Farida Lemouchi (ex-The Devil’s Blood) and guitarist Oeds Beydals (ex-Death Alley, also ex-The Devil’s Blood) and commissioned as a project for Roadburn Festival 2019 (review here), Molassess are inextricably tied to Lemouchi‘s groundbreaking former outfit and its tragic ending, but the musical branching out into darkened progressive textures on Through the Hollow isn’t to be understated. It was an album that pushed past the past, not overlooking it, but finding new ways of moving forward in life and sound.

11. Tony Reed, Funeral Suit

tony reed funeral suit

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Sept. 28.

While of course the Mos Generator frontman is no stranger to writing or recording on his own, Funeral Suit was Tony Reed‘s debut as a solo artist and it carried his progressive stamp in melody and arrangement. It was not just a guitarist playing acoustic instead of electric, and it was not a manifestation of self-indulgence. Whether it was reworking a Mos Generator song like “Lonely One Kenobi” or pursuing a new piece like the title-track or “Waterbirth,” Reed found balance between personal and audience, evoking traditional songsmithing even as he reminded listeners of his dual role as a producer.

10. Geezer, Groovy

Geezer Groovy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 18.

Spectacular showing from Kingston kingpins Geezer with Groovy as their first offering for Heavy Psych Sounds. Led by guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, the three-piece brought material that flowed with the organic feel of jams despite being structured and catchy songs. In pieces like “Dead Soul Scroll” and “Drowning on Empty,” they melded stonerized groove with what felt like genuine emotional expression, and “Dig” and “Groovy” still managed to be a heavy fuzz-blues party. And they still had room at the end to jam out on “Slide Mountain” and “Black Owl.” It was nothing but a win, rising to the occasion on every level.

9. Big Scenic Nowhere, Vision Beyond Horizon

big scenic nowhere vision beyond horizon

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Jan. 29.

So Bob Balch from Fu Manchu and Gary Arce from Yawning Man have a band. They get Tony Reed from Mos Generator on board. Mario Lalli from Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson comes and goes. Nick Oliveri comes and goes. Bill Stinson from Yawning Man plays drums. Alain Johannes sits in on vocals. Reed does a bunch of vocals; his kid does a track too. Per Wiberg from Spiritual Beggars, Opeth, Candlemass, etc., lends some keys. What do you call such a thing? Who cares? You call yourself lucky it exists. They called the record¬†Vision Beyond Horizon. Can’t wait to find out what they call the next one.

8. Elder, Omens

elder omens

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed April 27.

Omens marked a new beginning for Elder as the band pushed deeper into the realm of progressive rock and beyond their weightier beginnings. The arrival of Georg Edert (also Gaffa Ghandi) on drums in place of Matt Couto shifted the band’s dynamic in a number of ways, providing not a swinging anchor for the rhythm section necessarily, but another avenue of prog fluidity. Bassist Jack Donovan brought a steady presence in the low end as guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo and guitarist/keyboardist Mike Risberg embarked on new melodic explorations while staying loyal to the band’s established penchant for sweeping changes. Omens may live up to its name as a sign of things to come, but either way, it was a strong display of the band’s will to pursue new ideas and methods.

7. Forming the Void, Reverie

forming the void reverie

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 15.

First words that come to mind here: “eminently listenable.” With seven tracks and 36 minutes, Reverie may not have taken up much of your afternoon… once. But by the time you gave it its proper respect and listened through three times in a row, the situation was somewhat different. The Lafayette, Louisiana, four-piece gracefully brought together structured songwriting with proggier leanings and were able to bring together rampaging hooks like “Trace the Omen” and “Manifest,” casting a sense of sonic hugeness without forgetting to add either melody or personality along with that. The band — who here welcomed bassist Thorn Letulle alongside guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa and drummer Thomas Colley — have worked quickly and evolved with a sense of urgency. Is Reverie the goal or another step on that path?

6. Grayceon, MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES

grayceon mothers weavers vultures

Released by Translation Loss Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

Vocalist/cellist Jackie Perez Gratz (interview here), guitarist Max Doyle and drummer Zack Farwell comprise Grayceon, and with their fifth record, the band looks around thematically at environmental devastation through the lens of record-breaking California wildfires from their vantage point in the Bay Area. Even as the world shifted priorities (at least most of it did) to yet another global crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, genre-melting-pot songs like “Diablo Wind,” “The Lucky Ones,” and “This Bed” reminded of the horrors humanity has wrought on its battered home, and still managed to find hope and serenity in “And Shine On” and “Rock Steady,” a closing duo that shifted to a more personal discussion of family and one’s hope for a better future for and by the next generation. 2020 had plenty of horror. At least we got a new Grayceon record out of it.

5. Brant Bjork, Brant Bjork

brant bjork brant bjork

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 28.

When Sho’Nuff asked Bruce Leroy “who’s the master?,” dude should’ve said Brant Bjork. It would’ve been a confusing end to Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, but ultimately more accurate, as Brant Bjork‘s homegrown kung fu was unfuckwithable as ever on the album that shares his name. After two decades of solo releases in one form or another, Bjork is not just a pivotal figurehead for desert rock, he’s a defining presence, as well as one of its most treasured practitioners. Brant Bjork, the album, brought initial waves of funk in “Jungle in the Sound,” explored weedy worship in “Mary (You’re Such a Lady)” and toyed with religious dogma in offsetting that with “Jesus Was a Bluesman” while still tossing primo hooks in “Duke of Dynamite” and “Shitkickin’ Now” ahead of the more open ‚ÄúStardust and Diamond Eyes‚ÄĚ and the acoustic closer “Been So Long.” With Bjork recording all the instruments himself, a due feeling of intimacy resulted, and yet he still found a way to make it rock. How could it be otherwise?

4. Enslaved, Utgard

enslaved utgard

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Sept. 29.

Why do I feel the immediate need to defend this pick? I’m not sure. Norway’s Enslaved are an institution, not just of black metal, but of bringing an ideology of creative growth to that style that often willfully resists it. They are iconoclastic even unto their own work. Utgard was released as the band stood on the precipice of 30 years together and yet it stood as their most forward-looking offering yet, as co-founders Grutle Kjellson (bass/vocals) and Ivar Bj√łrnson (guitar/sometimes vocals), as well as longtime lead guitarist¬†Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal backed up the change from 2017‚Äôs¬†E¬†(review here) that brought in new keyboardist/vocalist¬†Hakon Vinje with the incorporation of drummer Iver Sand√ły, who doubles as a vocalist (and triples as a producer). The “new blood” made all the difference on¬†Utgard, allowing¬†Enslaved to piece together new ranges of melody in their work and offset instrumental shifts into and out of krautrock-derived progressions. Simply the work of a band outdoing itself from a band who does so at nearly every opportunity.

3a. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten and Ripple Music. Reviewed Dec. 3, 2019.

Every year I allow myself one addendum pick, and this is it. We Are was on last year’s list because it was digitally released, but the vinyl came out this year and it received its North American release this year as well, so it seemed only right to acknowledge that. So here it is in its proper place.

3. All Them Witches, Nothing as the Ideal

All-Them-Witches-Nothing-as-the-Ideal

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 3.

This is a band controlling their own narrative. Instead of Nothing as the Ideal being ‘the one they made as a three-piece,’ the Nashville outfit decided to make it ‘the one they recorded at Abbey Road.’ Were they thinking of it on those terms? Yeah, likely not, but it goes to demonstrate all the same just how much of themselves All Them Witches put into what they do musically, since not only are they continuing to refine and define and undefine their approach, but they’re setting the terms on which they do it. Each of their records has been a response to the one prior, but that conversation has never been so direct as to make them predictable. So what are they chasing? Apparently nothing. I’m not entirely sure I buy that as a complete answer, but I am sure I love these songs and the experiments with tape loops and other sounds that fill these spaces. Whatever they do next — or even if nothing — their run has been incredible and exciting and one only hopes their influence continues to spread over the next however many years.

2. Elephant Tree, Habits

elephant tree habits

Released by Deathwish Inc.. Reviewed April 13.

There was a high standard set by¬†Elephant Tree‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), but their second LP,¬†Habits, surpassed even the loftiest of expectations. With vocals centered around harmonies from guitarist¬†Jack Townley¬†and bassist¬†Peter Holland, the former trio completed by drummer¬†Sam Hart brought in guitarist/keyboardist¬†John Slattery (also sometimes vocals), and the resultant breadth gave the material on¬†Habits spaciousness beyond even what the first album promised. Drifting, rolling, unflinchingly melodic and somehow present even in its own escapism, Habits¬†was not just an early highlight for a rough 2020, but a comforting presence throughout, and the further one dug into tracks like “Sails,” “Exit the Soul,” “Faceless,” “Wasted” and the acoustic “The Fall Chorus,” the more there was to find — let alone “Bird,” which I’ll happily put against anything else one might propose for song of the year. As their former UK label crumbled, Habits emerged unscathed and¬†Elephant Tree‘s future continues to shine with ever more hope for things to come. Being able to say that about anything feels like a relief.

2020 Album of the Year

1. Lowrider, Refractions

Lowrider Refractions

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Twenty years ago, Sweden’s Lowrider put out what would become a heavy rock landmark in their 2000 debut,¬†Ode to Io¬†(reissue review here). A follow-up years in the making even after the band got back together to play¬†Desertfest in London¬†(review here) and Berlin in 2013,¬†Refractions¬†first saw limited release in 2019 as part of¬†Blues Funeral‘s¬†PostWax series (discussed here), but its proper arrival was in early 2020, and there was really no looking back after that. It wasn’t just the novelty of a new¬†Lowrider album that made¬†Refractions such a joy, but the manner in which the band went about its work. There was no pretending that 20 years didn’t happen. There was no attempt to recapture the bottled lightning that was the first record, and¬†Lowrider did not sound like a band “making a comeback” rife with expectations and fan-service.¬†Refractions acknowledged the legacy of¬†Ode to Io, sure enough, but as a step toward adding to it in meaningful and engaging ways. The songs — “Red River,” “Ode to Ganymede,” “Sernanders Krog,” “Ol’ Mule Pepe,” “Sun Devil/M87” and the 11-minute finale “Pipe Rider” — were fashioned without pretense and came across as the organic output of a band with nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. They made it their own. In a wretched year, Lowrider shined.

The Top 50 Albums of 2020: Honorable Mention

Yeah, okay. There are a lot of these, so buckle in. Last year I just threw out a list of bands. This year I’m a little more organized, so here are bands and records alphabetically.

Across Tundras, LOESS ~ L√ĖSS
Across Tundras, The Last Days of a Silver Rush
Alain Johannes, Hum
Arboretum, Let it All In
Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. 1
Black Helium, The Wholly Other
Boris, No
Brimstone Coven, The Woes of a Mortal Earth
CB3, Aeons
Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings
Crippled Black Phoenix, Ellengæst
Cruthu, Athr√ļ Crutha
Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2
DOOL, Summerland
Dopelord, Sign of the Devil
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Elder Druid, Golgotha
Ellis Munk Ensemble, San Diego Sessions
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full
EMBR, 1823
Familiars, All in Good Time
Forlesen, Hierophant Violent
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
The Heavy Eyes, Love Like Machines
Hum, Inlet
Human Impact, Human Impact
Humulus, The Deep
Jupiterian, Protosapien
Kariti, Covered Mirrors
Khan, Monsoons
Kingnomad, Sagan Om Ryden
King Witch, Body of Light
Kryptograf, Kryptograf
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Lord Buffalo, Tohu Wa Bohu
Lord Loud, Timid Beast
Lotus Thief, Oresteia
Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Motorpsycho, The All is One
Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual
Mr. Bison, Seaward
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Mugstar, GRAFT
Murcielago, Casualties
Oranssi Pazuzu, Mestarin Kynsi
Paradise Lost, Obsidian
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back
Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls
Psychlona, Venus Skytrip
Puta Volcano, AMMA
Ritual King, Ritual King
River Cult, Chilling Effect
Rrrags, High Protein
Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)
Sigiriya, Maiden – Mother – Crone
Six Organs of Admittance, Companion Rises
16, Dream Squasher
Slomosa, Slomosa
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
Steve Von Till, No Wilderness Deep Enough
Stone Machine Electric, The Inexplicable Vibrations of Frequencies Within the Cosmic Netherworld
Sumac, May You Be Held
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
Temple of Void, The World That Was
The Kings of Frog Island, VI
Tia Carrera, Tried and True
Turtle Skull, Monoliths
Uffe Lorenzen, Magisk Realisme
Ulcerate, Stare Into Death and Be Still
Vessel of Light, Last Ride
Vestal Claret, Vestal Claret
Vinnum Sabbathi, Of Dimensions and Theories
Wight, Spank the World
Wino, Forever Gone
Yatra, All is Lost
Yuri Gagarin, The Outskirts of Reality

By no means is that list exhaustive. And to look at stuff like Psychlona, Oranssi Pazuzu, Wight, Wino, Puta Volcano, Kingnomad, Ellis Munk Ensemble, Paradise Lost, Alain Johannes, Arbouretum, Uffe Lorenzen, Tia Carrera — on and on and on — I can definitely see where arguments are to be made for records that should’ve been in the list proper. I can only go with what feels right to me at the time.

Together with the top 50, this makes over 110 albums in the best of 2020. If you find yourself needing something to hang your hat on, be glad you’re alive to witness this much excellent music coming out.

Debut Album of the Year

Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Other notable debuts (alphabetically):

Atramentus, Stygian
Bethmoora, Thresholds
BleakHeart, Dream Griever
Crystal Spiders, Molt
Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Electric Feat, Electric Feat
Familiars, All in Good Time
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
Human Impact, Human Impact
Jointhugger, I Am No One
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game
Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Might, Might
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation
Ritual King, Ritual King
SEA, Impermanence
Slomosa, Slomosa
Soldati, Doom Nacional
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
SpellBook, Magick & Mischief
Spirit Mother, Cadets
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies
White Dog, White Dog

Notes: I sparred with myself every step of the way here. The last couple years I’ve tried to give the top-debut spot to not just a new band, but a new presence. Green Lung, King Buffalo, etc. Molassess, with members from The Devil’s Blood, Death Alley and Astrosoniq, isn’t exactly that. So what do I do? Do I go with something newer like Polymoon, Dirt Woman, BleakHeart, SEA, White Dog or The Crooked Whispers, or something with more established players like Molassess, Soldati, or even Light Pillars?

In the end, what made the difference was not just how brilliant the songs on Molassess’ Through the Hollow, but how honestly the band confronted the legacy they were up against. The songs had a familiar haunting presence, but they were also moving ahead to somewhere new. It was that blend of old and new ideas, and the resonant feeling of emotional catharsis — as well as the sheer immersion that took place while listening — that ultimately made the decision. Turns out I just couldn’t escape it.

And why not a list? Because this feels woefully inadequate as it is. I reviewed over 250 records this year one way or another — and that’s a conservative estimate — but a lot gets lost in the shuffle and somehow it just seemed wrong this time around to call something the 13th best first record of the year. I wanted to highlight the special achievement that was the Molassess album, but really, all of these records kicked my ass one way or the other.

Short Release of the Year 2020

King Buffalo, Dead Star

King Buffalo Dead Star

Other notable EPs, Splits, Demos, etc.:

Big Scenic Nowhere, Lavender Blues
Coma Wall, Ursa Minor
Conan/Deadsmoke, Doom Sessions Vol. 1
Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 1
Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie
Howling Giant/Sergeant Thunderhoof, Masamune/Muramasa (split)
Oginalii, Pendulum
Kings Destroy, Floods
Lament Cityscape, The Old Wet
Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine +2
Merlock, That Which Speaks
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Mos Generator/Di’Aul, Split
Pimmit Hills, Heathens & Prophets
Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus
Rocky Mtn Roller, Rocky Mtn Roller
Spaceslug, Leftovers
10,000 Years, 10,000 Years
The White Swan, Nocturnal Transmission
Thunderbird Divine, The Hand of Man
Witchcraft, Black Metal

Notes: If you were wondering why King Buffalo’s Dead Star (review here) wasn’t on the big list, this is why. It was pitched to me as an EP and that’s how I’m classifying it. I’m taking the out. Is it an EP? Not really, but neither is it a full-length album, given its experimental nature and focus around its extended two-part title-track. Whatever it was, it was the best that-thing, and this is the category where such things go.

Again, tough choices after King Buffalo. Thunderbird Divine’s EP was wonderfully funk-blasted and woefully short (new album, please). The newly-issued Spaceslug EP branches out their sound in fascinating ways as a result of the lockdown. Witchcraft’s acoustic EP, Coma Wall’s EP and Big Scenic Nowhere’s EP all signaled good things to come, and Howling Giant’s split with Sergeant Thunderhoof was a highlight of the most recent Quarterly Review. There really isn’t a bummer on the list there, from the bitter psych of Oginalii to the industrial metal of Lament Cityscape, the unadulterated riffery of Merlock to the live-captured rawness of Monte Luna.

So again, why no list? Same answer. I want to highlight the progression King Buffalo made in their sound and leave room open elsewhere for things I missed. Please let me know what in the comments. Cordially.

Live Album of the Year 2020

Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock

yawning man live at giant rock

Other notable live releases:

Ahab, Live Prey
Amenra, Mass VI Live
Arcadian Child, From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz)
Author and Punisher, Live 2020 B.C.
Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse
Dead Meadow, Live at Roadburn 2011
Dirty Streets, Rough and Tumble
Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019
Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. 1
King Buffalo, Live at Freak Valley
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Orange Goblin, Rough & Ready: Live and Loud
√ėresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019
Pelican, Live at the Grog Shop
SEA, Live at ONCE
Sumac, St Vitus 09/07/2018
Sun Blood Stories, (a)Live and Alone at Visual Arts Collective
Temple Fang, Live at Merleyn
YOB, Pickathon 2019 ‚Äď Live From the Galaxy Barn

Notes: In this wretched year (mostly) void of live music, marked by canceled tours and festivals, the live album arguably played a more central role than it ever has, whether it was a band trying to keep momentum up following or leading into a studio release, taking advantage of the emergence of the Bandcamp Friday phenomenon or just trying to maintain some connection to their fans and the process of taking a stage. Or even playing in a room together. Or not a room. Anything. What was once a tossoff, maybe an afterthought companion piece became an essential worker of the listening experience.

You might accuse desert rock progenitors Yawning Man of playing to their base with Live at Giant Rock (featured here), and if so, fine. At no point in the last 50 years has that base more needed playing-to. And in the absence of shows, being able to hear (and watch, in the case of the accompanying video) Yawning Man go out to the landscape that spawned them and engage with their music was a beautiful moment of reconciliation. An exhale for the converted that didn’t fill one with empty promises of better tomorrows or tours to come, but served to remind what’s so worth preserving about the spirit of live music in the first place. The fact that anything can happen. A replaced note here, a tuning change there — these things can make not just an evening, but memories that go beyond shows, tours, to touch our lives.

There were a ton of live records this year. Some were benefits for worthy causes between saving venues, Black Lives Matter, voting rights organizations, and so on. And whether these were new performances from captured livestreams (Monte Luna, Kadavar) or older gigs that had been sitting around waiting for release at some point (Sumac, Dead Meadow), this, very much, was that point, and these live offerings kept burning a fire that felt at times very much in danger of being extinguished.

Looking Ahead to 2021

A list of bands. Some confirmed releases, some not. Here goes:

Dread Sovereign, Sasquatch, Year of Taurus, Apostle of Solitude, Weedpecker, Borracho, Love Gang, Jointhugger, Demon Head, Iron Man, Greenleaf, Samsara Blues Experiment, The Mammathus, Evert Snyman, Wo Fat, Conclave, Here Lies Man, Kabbalah, Komatsu, Hour of 13, Wedge, Amenra, La Chinga, Spidergawd, Wolves in the Throne Room, Vokonis, Freedom Hawk, Masters of Reality, ZOM, Eyehategod, Sanhedrin, Green Lung, The Mountain King, Albatross Overdrive, Elder, King Buffalo, Sunnata, Howling Giant, SAVER, Conan, Slomatics, Ruff Majik, Kind, Mos Generator, Yawning Sons, Lantl√īs, Brant Bjork, Spiral Grave, Crystal Spiders, Lightning Born, Samavayo, Wovenhand, Merlock, Comet Control, The Age of Truth, Eight Bells, BlackWater Holylight, DVNE, Monte Luna.

Thank You

You’ve read enough, so I will do my best to keep this mercifully short. Thank you so much for reading — whether you still are or not — and thank you for being a part of the ongoing project that is The Obelisk. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have such incredible support throughout not just this year, but all the years of the site’s existence. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you most of all to The Patient Mrs. for her indulgence in letting me get this done. I’m am amazed forever.

More to come.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 48

Posted in Radio on December 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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2020, if you can believe it, has started to wind down. The year-end poll is up, and it’s time for the Apparently-Annual The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal’s Some of the Best of 2020 Two-Part Extravaganza Blowout Supershow How Can I Possibly Make the Title Even Longer Oh Wait I Got It: The Next Generation.

That’s right, friends and neighbors, this show and the next one — which is on frickin’ Xmas Day; love it — bring just a smattering of some of 2020’s highlights. Voice tracks and playlists are in for both episodes, and this one airs today as the first of the two-parter, acknowledging the utterly spectacular time it’s been for death-doom particularly. I guess Atramentus are doing some heavy lifting there, but to listen to that track, I think you’ll agree they’re up to the task.

Beyond that, space rock, prog-heavy, psychedelia, and good ol’ riffs pervade, thriving despite the hardest and most surreal times. If you get to listen, I very much hope you enjoy it. I’ll be in the Gimme chat if you want to say hi.

Thanks for listening and reading.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmemetal.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 12.11.20

Forming the Void Manifest Reverie 0:05:22
Rezn The Door Opens Chaotic Divine 0:07:33
King Buffalo Dead Star Pt. 1 & 2 Dead Star 0:16:21
VT
Big Scenic Nowhere Mirror Image Vision Beyond Horizon 0:05:41
Kind Bad Friend Mental Nudge 0:07:42
Yuri Gagarin The Outskirts of Reality The Outskirts of Reality 0:08:32
Six Organs of Admittance Two Forms Moving Companion Rises 0:04:39
Bethmoora Painted Man Thresholds 0:09:05
My Dying Bride Your Broken Shore The Ghost of Orion 0:07:43
Paradise Lost Forsaken Obsidian 0:04:30
Deathwhite A Servant Grave Image 0:04:42
Atramentus Stygian I: From Tumultuous Heavens… (Descended Forth The Ceaseless Darkness) Stygian 0:16:28
VT
Colour Haze I’m With You We Are 0:07:47
Lowrider Red River Refractions 0:05:11

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Dec. 25 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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Video Interview: Craig Riggs of Kind

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on November 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

kind craig riggs

It comes up in the interview, but I’ll note here as well that the discography of Craig Riggs is significant. In addition to his time first as drummer then as frontman of Boston heavy rock standard-setters Roadsaw, there’s White Dynomite, Los Angeles’ Sasquatch for whom he plays drums, and Kind, whose new album, Mental Nudge (review here) is their second behind 2015’s Rocket Science (review here). All of that doesn’t take into account either the fact that¬†Riggs is head honcho at Mad Oak Studios, an institution in the Northeast, occasionally puts out releases through¬†Mad Oak Records, and roasts his own coffee. Dude keeps busy.

Nonetheless, with¬†Riggs on vocals,¬†Darryl Shepard on guitar,¬†Tom Corino on bass and¬†Matt Couto on drums,¬†Kind are a special case. A supergroup the pedigree of which spans decades not only through his own but¬†Shepard‘s as well, the band coalesces around a heavy psychedelic rock that puts emphasis on all three words in that combination. Particularly on¬†Mental Nudge, they are able to harness breadth and shove alike, and as the album was recorded in January with the emerging specter of the COVID-19 pandemic starting to take shape around them, the record brims with the potentiality for what they might’ve done in bringing it to the stage.

Well, so much for that. While¬†Kind are taking part today along with Set Fire and others in a prior-filmed live stream (info on Thee Facebooks) to benefit the esteemed ONCE Ballroom in Somerville, MA, as well as¬†Grayskull Booking,¬†Mental Nudge is the first record in¬†Riggs notable catalog where he can’t get on stage to support it with live shows. In the video interview below, we talk about what to do with that energy — hint: make another record — along with the yet-to-be-released-but-already-in-the-can¬†Sasquatch album, experimentation with melodic layering and effects, changes in the band’s circumstances with the dissolution of what had been¬†Corino‘s main outfit¬†Rozamov and¬†Couto‘s separation from¬†Elder, and much more.

We spoke earlier this week, on the grim-feeling morning after the US presidential election, and that comes up too in its way, as it would almost have to. Not too much. Just a little.

Thanks to Riggs for taking the time to chat and to you for reading and/or watching

Please enjoy:

Kind, Mental Nudge Interview with Craig Riggs, Nov. 4, 2020

One more time, Kind‘s Mental Nudge is out now through Ripple Music. The album stream follows here.

Kind, Mental Nudge (2020)

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 45

Posted in Radio on October 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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Seriously, nothing personal if that’s your thing, but I’m just not a big Halloween guy. I know it’s like supposed to be a whole heavy metal blah blah holiday and paganism and skulls and Samhain and witches are hot and all that kind of stuff, but it’s really not my vibe. So while there was a part of me that was tempted to play Type O Negative’s October Rust in its entirety as a part of this episode of¬†The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal, I opted instead to stow that notion and focus on new music instead. If you’re into dressing up and carving pumpkins and all that, awesome. I wish I could rock that way. It looks like fun. But it’s just not me.

Right around KVLL and Celestial Season this episode gets pretty heavy — heavier than I knew it was going to until I started to put it together — but it shifts back I hope with some sense of flow thanks to Grayceon and Pallbearer and Kind ahead of the two-long-songs closeout that’s kind of become tradition. Weird to think of approaching 50 episodes here, but I guess time does what time does, which is fly. In any case, if you listen, don’t miss Alien Mustangs at the start and don’t miss BleakHeart in the middle. Those are two records I haven’t really had the chance to cover that are both excellent, though really any of this stuff you felt inclined to dig further into, it’s not like I’d fight you on the impulse.

Either way, thanks for listening if you do. I hope you enjoy the show.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmemetal.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 10.30.20

Alien Mustangs Fairy Meadows Beat of the Earth*
Paul Holden Cawongla Dreaming Worn Boot Tread*
Brass Hearse Dusty Graves Red Into Rivulets*
Kings of the Fucking Sea Arcade Atlantis In Concert*
VT1
Uncle Woe A Map of Dead Stars Phantomescence*
BleakHeart Dream Griever Dream Griever*
KVLL Beneath the Throne Death//Sacrifice*
Celestial Season Long Forlorn Tears The Secret Teachings*
Grayceon Diablo Wind Mothers Weavers Vultures*
Pallbearer Silver Wings Forgotten Days*
Kind Helms Mental Nudge*
VT2
Moths & Locusts Exoplanets Exoplanets*
Burn the Ship Dead Guy Burn the Ship*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Nov. 13 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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Album Review: Kind, Mental Nudge

Posted in Reviews on October 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

kind mental nudge

What a difference a few years can make. It’s been five since Boston’s Kind released their debut album, Rocket Science (review here), through Ripple Music, and the intervening time has seen a few changes of circumstance that put the band in new light. Vocalist Craig Riggs, heretofore best known as the vocalist of Roadsaw, not only put out a record with that band but also joined L.A.’s Sasquatch on drums. Guitarist Darryl Shepard, whose pedigree of Beantown-based groups might be unmatched —¬†Milligram, Blackwolfgoat,¬†Hackman, countless others — has spent the last few years exploring grunge/heavy-punk influences with the duo Test Meat. And in the rhythm section, what was formerly thought of as bassist¬†Tom Corino‘s main project,¬†Rozamov, haven’t played a show since 2018, despite putting out an awaited debut of their own, while drummer Matt Couto parted ways with Elder in 2019.

The result of all this as it relates to¬†Kind‘s second full-length,¬†Mental Nudge, is a palpable sense of focus. If the songs on Rocket Science were the output born of the four-piece’s initial coming together and learning how to work from a group, then this follow-up is accordingly a moment whereby they take what was established last time around and blast it forward in terms of progression. Notably, that can be heard in terms of the songcraft, as right from the outset with “Broken Tweaker,” Mental Nudge¬†does not shy away from laying down righteous hooks, where the previous collection perhaps pushed back to some minor degree against that impulse to highlight more of a psychedelic expanse. Rest assured, with synth added from¬†Couto and¬†Riggs both, a cut like “It’s Your Head” offers both, and that’s indicative of the modus of the record as a whole, though the tracklisting veers between longer songs (six to eight minutes) and shorter ones (under five) so as much as¬†Kind¬†are dedicated to setting up a full-album flow and letting each song make an impression of its own as a part of that, there’s a willingness to play around a bit and bounce the listener back and forth along the way.

It works well. “Fast Number Two” is a direct sequel to the accordingly titled “Fast Number One” from the first LP, and is emblematic of how the three shorter inclusions on¬†Mental Nudge — itself, “Helms” and the penultimate title-track — manage to balance structural and atmospheric impulses. The sense of space —¬†Alec Rodriguez recorded at¬†Mad Oak Studio; another crucial return — is what unites the material throughout, and in following “Broken Tweaker” laying down the gauntlet in the opening line of the record, “Fuck yeah, I’m willing,” “Fast Number Two” brings a charge without stumbling over its own sprawl. No one in the band is inexperienced when it comes to writing songs, of course, but particular credit has to go to Couto, who handles every turn with grace and a masterful swing, and¬†Corino, whose bass tone brings low-end punch not only to “Fast Number Two” but to the subsequent chug of “Bad Friend” and the closing plod of “Trigger Happy” in highlight fashion. Their work together not only brings impact, groove and weight to the riffs, but broadens and enhances the reach of the band overall.

kind

Along with Riggs‘ layered vocals finding layered and languid apexes in “Bad Friend” and “Helms,” repeating lines in the latter — which is also the centerpiece — as a preface to the hypnosis cast in the finale, and the wash of riffs and leads from Shepard, who spaces out in the midsection of “Bad Friend,” shreds in “It’s Your Head” and pulls out¬†Cantrell-style soul for “Mental Nudge,” Kind becomes bolstered by the quality of each performance without losing sight of the mission in terms either of individual pieces or the album they comprise. Being more than the sum of their parts might be clich√© — actually there’s no “might” about it — but that doesn’t make it any less true. Whatever a given song might hold in terms of tempo or melody, the atmosphere of Mental Nudge is immersive and welcomes the listener in plenty-of-room-for-everybody fashion. “It’s Your Head,” “Mental Nudge” and “Trigger Happy” make up a purposeful side B, and while it begins at a charge, the band’s intention to tip the balance toward breadth comes across clearly in both the songs themselves and in the change in structure — i.e., where each longer piece has a corresponding shorter one on side A’s four tracks, “Trigger Happy” (8:29) has the last word on side B.

It’s worth noting that¬†Mental Nudge‘s seven-track/44-minute run is about five minutes shorter than¬†Rocket Science, which also had eight songs, so that might very well be the difference here, but one way or the other, it allows¬†Kind to set the listener adrift in the closing minutes of the album, as “Trigger Happy” picks up from the guitar-led thickened scorch that is “Mental Nudge” and unfurls itself with a surprising edge of psychedelic doom and teases a final surge as it passes the five-minute mark but ultimately cuts back following a quick solo and sets its course toward an eventual dissolution, rolling out on crashes and melodic whispers that in their residual fade-out tones manage to cast an empty version of the space they’ve created. When it’s over, one might feel as though taking in a cliffside view.¬†Kind, then, have pushed as far outward as they’ll go on¬†Mental Nudge, and left their audience in that place. The effect is resonant and lasting.

What¬†Rocket Science¬†put forth,¬†Mental Nudge codifies into genuine sonic persona.¬†Kind are not just a band with members who are/were in other groups — they’ve created this approach of their own and proceeded to work in their own sphere. Obviously there are shades of past work, since it’s the same people, but¬†Kind build something new out of that both because of the combination of players and the individualized intent from which they’re functioning. One hopes it’s not another half-decade before a third¬†Kind record surfaces, but if it is and it represents the sort of accomplished step forward from the standard Mental Nudge sets, it will have been worth the wait.

Kind, Mental Nudge (2020)

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Mad Oak Coffee Roasters Dark Roast: A First Cup and Then Some

Posted in Reviews on October 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

mad oak coffee bag w chemex

My daily coffee ritual is as complex as it is splendid. It begins the night before. The hopper of my Chemex Ottomatic is filled with filtered water from the fridge. It’s an eight-cup hopper and I generally go just a little above the line. Beans are usually already in the burr grinder, so I tap the button on that — and yes, I know you’re supposed to grind immediately before making the coffee, but you go ahead and run a burr grinder that sounds like a jet engine at 3:45 in the morning when your wife is sleeping right down the hall and see how you fare; it’s a question of courtesy — and a corresponding eight cups of rough-grind awaits. Set up the carafe with the filter, pour in the grounds, and go to sleep knowing that when I get up all I have to do is press a button and the best coffee I’ve ever had — because the best one is always the next one; it’s like Neurosis albums — will be waiting for me by the time I’m done brushing my teeth. There are mornings where that knowledge gets me out of bed.

Now then. I am loyal generally to Dean’s Beans out of Massachusetts, and I have two custom roast recipes through them that I order in eight-to-ten-pound batches: a low-acid dark roast I call ‘The Obelisk Dark Roast’ and a medium roast called ‘The Obelisk Heavy Psych Blend.’ But when I read on the social medias that Craig Riggs — he of Kind, Roadsaw, Sasquatch, etc., as well as Mad Oak Studios — was rolling out a fresh batch of Rwandan-bean dark roast through Mad Oak Coffee Roasters, it was time to deviate from the norm. I emptied out the grinder to start entirely fresh when the bright orange bag showed up and felt ready to give it an honest go.

First, the bag. Resealable is always preferable though probably more expensive. You live with it either way. First thing I look for though when I’m opening a bag of any dark roast is how wet are the beans. Gimme those greasy beans. I want to be able to pop a bean in my mouth straight off and taste it before I even take a bite. I’m not looking for something so dark it just tastes burnt and bitter, and from the first sniff to the chewed bean, Riggs‘ dark roast held the promise of balanced presence of flavor. I looked forward to the morning.

And when the AM came — cruelly early, but no different than ever — I brewed the eight-cup pot I’d consume in my big Baltimore mug The Patient Mrs.’ mother gave me a couple years ago that I use every day and travel with if I can (not so much a concern lately, oddly enough), basically splitting it in half. The grounds had a good-looking bloom in the pour-over machine and I let it settle before pouring the first cup, then let that cool a bit as is my custom before finally diving in while working on my laptop on the couch — the ritual complete when the cup gets washed and stuck in the dish drainer, where it basically lives when not in use because it never goes back in the cabinet, though it does make it into the dishwasher sometimes.

Both cups held that smoothness, which is what I was looking for. A velvety flavor to dark roast, and though I know Ethiopian beans, for example, especially in lighter roasts, are much heralded for their fruity sensibilities, that’s not where I’m at. Wood, cocoa, if it’s nutty that’s fine, but I drink it black exclusively and so I want my coffee basically to taste like coffee. Mad Oak‘s did to a satisfying degree. I am no expert when it comes to palette — can’t tell you hints of cherry or identify elements of the terroir — but I’m a snob and my taste in coffee is easily offended. In talking to my wife about it I told her it was a coffee I could live with, and I didn’t mean it like it’s meh and it’s not gonna kill me. I mean like me and the coffee should get an apartment together.

Mad Oak Coffee Roasters has been around in seemingly intermittent fashion for at least the last six years and probably longer. The bags now are snazzier looking. I asked Riggs where he got his beans from and he said a company in California, which means by they time they got to me in New Jersey they went from Rwanda to California to Massachusetts and then south to me, which isn’t an insignificant trip. I would assume based on knowing Riggs that he’s working with fair trade sourcing — crazy, I know, but Rwanda’s known way more for genocide than coffee — and, well, I guess if I was so concerned about the environmental impact of shipping coffee I’d probably move to Africa or South America. In the meantime, complicity for everyone!

When I finished the pot — which I did in good time, mind you — I decided quickly to make myself another cup’s worth, to get the fresh-ground experience. I wish I was erudite enough to honestly say there was an appreciable difference, but really, it was delicious in any case. Riggs only does small batch roasts — limited edition, for those of you who want to think of it like a vinyl release — but if you can get your hands on some when the getting’s good, the balance and depth of flavors happening in my mug this morning were enough to make me look forward to the next time it’s available.

Mad Oak Coffee Roasters on Thee Facebooks

Mad Oak Coffee Roasters on Instagram

Mad Oak Studios website

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Kind to Release Mental Nudge Sept. 11; Preorders & New Single Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

kind mental nudge

New¬†Kind is out in September, and if I need to say it, that’s a reason to hold a spot on your best-of-2020 list. The four-piece of course features members of Roadsaw and¬†Rozamov as well as those formerly tenured in outfits like¬†Elder and Milligram, but here’s one for you — the band also features members of¬†Kind, and if you heard their Ripple-issued 2015 debut album,¬†Rocket Science (review here), you know that means something. Far from being the work of four dudes in other bands with disparate influences,¬†Rocket Science forged a persona for¬†Kind as a separate unit, working indeed from different influences, but toward a common point of heavy psychedelic rock built around memorable songwriting. I’m not saying I’ve heard it or anything, but¬†Mental Nudge, which¬†Ripple¬†will release in September, is very much a worthy follow-up to what was a killer debut.

They’re giving a first sample now in the track “Bad Friend,” and while I’m here, I’ll give a wave to my buddy Lee over at The Sleeping Shaman, who had the premiere. Hey Lee. Hope you’re well.

The PR wire sent the following:

kind mental nudge

Boston stoner rock supergroup KIND unleash first single + preorder for new album ‘Mental Nudge’, coming September 11th on Ripple Music!

Boston-based stoner rock supergroup KIND (with current and former Elder, The Scimitar and Roadsaw members) return with their sophomore album ‘Mental Nudge’ this September 11th on Ripple Music, and share first single “Bad Friend” today..

Featuring Matt Couto (ex-Elder), Tom Corino (ex-Rozamov), Craig Riggs (Roadsaw) and Darryl Shepard (ex-The Scimitar), Boston heavy rock/stoner foursome KIND return with their second full-length, ready to unleash the follow-up to their acclaimed 2015 Ripple Music debut ‘Rocket Science’. Staying true to their sound but expanding their sonic palette, KIND has crafted seven new songs that cover the aural spectrum, from the indie-rock influenced “Helms” to the full-on doom of “Trigger Happy” to the rock bombast of “Broken Tweaker,” all capturing the effortless interplay between the instruments and Craig Riggs’ powerful vocals. The result is a wall of sound that shows the talent and experience these musicians continue to bring to the form.

‘Mental Nudge’ was recorded at Mad Oak Studios by Alec Rodriguez (Lesser Glow, Forn, Chelsea Wolfe live sound) and mastered by Carl Saff at Saff Mastering. Artwork was designed by Alexander von Wieding (Monster Magnet, Karma to Burn, Brant Bjork).

Stream KIND’s infectious new single “Bad Friend” right here

‘Mental Nudge’ will be released on September 11th, and available now to preorder via Ripple Music as:
– Rare Test Pressing LP
– Worldwide Edition Classic Black Vinyl LP
– Limited Edition Colored Vinyl LP (150 copies pressed on yellow and mint green half and half vinyl)
– CD and digital

KIND New album ‘Mental Nudge’
Out September 11th via Ripple Music
European preorder // North American preorder

TRACK LISTING:
1. Broken Tweaker
2. Faster Number Two
3. Bad Friend
4. Helms
5. It’s Your Head
6. Mental Nudge
7. Trigger Happy

KIND are:
Matthew Couto – drums
Tom Corino – bass
Craig Riggs – vocals
Darryl Shepard – guitar

https://www.facebook.com/KINDtheband
https://www.instagram.com/therockbandkind/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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