Review: Various Artists, Live in the Mojave Desert, Vols. 1-5

Posted in Reviews on April 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

live in the mojave desert 1-5

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A rundown:

Earthless, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1

earthless live in the mojave desert
(stream review here)

The crazy thing about this series — or one of the crazy things, anyhow — is that if it had been just  See; thats why its important to choose the best Business Plan Elements Structure by following reviews. We need to clarify something: hiring academic writers is not illegal. This is the so-called concept of ghostwriting, which has always been present. Celebrities hire ghostwriters to complete their autobiographies, and dont mind signing their name on those books. Many academics relied on Earthless, that probably would’ve been enough to be staggering. Admittedly, it is difficult to hear the audio from bassist  If you wonder where to Electronic Phd Thesis online, review our website right now. In fact, writing a thesis paper is the most difficult type of assignment in academic world. You will need to show some drafts to your professor. It is not a problem, because we can provide you with ready thesis parts. Also, we understand that the payment sometimes can be very hard for students budget. Hence, we offer Mike Eginton, drummer  Mario Rubalcaba and the aforementioned Isaiah Mitchell and not think of the desert at night being lit up by the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show, drones flying overhead as trippy lights flash and shift with the music, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Earthless played three songs — “Violence of the Red Sea,” “Sonic Prayer” and “Lost in the Cold Sun” — and that’s enough to make their release the only 2LP of the Live in the Mojave Desert set, topping out at about 77 minutes, with the entirety of sides C and D dedicated to “Lost in the Cold Sun”‘s 39-minute sprawl.

There’s a reason Earthless were the headliners for this thing, and it’s because there’s no one else who has the same instrumental dynamic they bring to the stage — or sand, as it were — and because if you’re going for “epic” as a standard, they’re the band you call. Will Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1 replace Live at Roadburn 2008 (discussed here) as the band’s supreme live-recorded statement? I don’t know, but it sure sounds incredible. “Sonic Prayer” comes through with due sense of worship and “Lost in the Cold Sun” fuzzy grace feels like the kind of thing a future generation might think of as classic rock. Watching, it was easy to get lost in the show, follow the head-spinning turns of guitar atop the ultra-sure foundation of bass and drums, and listening, it’s the same. With an exquisite mix and a vital performance, it’s every bit the best-case-scenario for what Live in the Mojave Desert could and should be.

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Nebula, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2

nebula live in the mojave desert
(stream review here)

With Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2, I consider Nebula‘s comeback complete. The band reformed in 2017, hit the road hard, and in 2019 offered up the return studio full-length, Holy Shit! (review here), and toured again for as long as that option was available. They have new material in the works too, and what’s most striking about the trio’s performance the 10-song/48-minute set here is how characteristic it sounds. Drummer Mike Amster (also Mondo Generator, etc.) and bassist Tom Davies strap the listener down while founding guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass takes off to the center of the universe, and amid classics like that opener, Holy Shit! cuts like “Messiah,” “Let’s Get Lost,” “Man’s Best Friend” and the new song “Wall of Confusion” fit right in. There’s never a doubt, never a question of who you’re hearing. Even the sloppiest moments are pure Nebula.

That’s what they’ve always been — part punk, part heavy psych, part pure go — and Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2 brings that to bear without question. As a follow-up to Holy Shit! as well as the band’s second sanctioned live recording behind 2008’s Peel Session, it captures their inimitable sonic persona and the sense of chaos that their material always seems to carry, like it’s all about to come apart at any second and if it did, fuck it anyway, you’re the one with the problem. It never does come apart here, which I guess is to the band’s credit as well, but this set is nonetheless a full expression of who Nebula are as a group. Now get to work on that next record.

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Spirit Mother, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3

spirit mother live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

If one might think of including Spirit Mother in the series as a risk, the risk was mild at best, and as the first of two bands representing a next generation of California’s heavy underground, the Long Beach troupe more than acquitted themselves well in their relatively brief 10-song/33-minute showing. Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3 basks in the violin-conjured atmospheres of the four-piece’s debut album, Cadets (review here), and wants nothing for impact to complement that ethereal sensibility. Their songs are short, and that gives them a kind of proto-grunge edge, and the vocals of bassist Armand Lance, who shares those duties with violinist SJ, add drug-punkish urgency to the procession of one song into the next.

For a band coming off their first album, they are intricate in aesthetic in ways that might surprise new listeners, and that’s exactly why they feature behind Nebula in this series. Hearing them dig into “Black Sheep” and “Martyrs” and “Dead Cells” on Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3 is the best argument I can think of in favor of signing the band for their next studio release, and if Heavy Psych Sounds doesn’t, someone else surely will. Not trying to tell anyone their business, of course, but Spirit Mother are happening one way or another. That combination of air, earth, and fuzz is too good to leave out.

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Stöner, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4

Stöner live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

Aired fifth but billed almost inevitably as Vol. 4, the unveiling of Stöner, the new trio from Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri with Ryan Gut (also of the former’s solo band) on drums was a bonus to the Live in the Mojave Desert. On-again-off-again collaborators across decades, Bjork and Oliveri nestled into mostly laid-back, stripped down grooves, their stated purpose in going back to the roots of the sound they helped create in the first place. The Kyuss-ness of the central riff of opener “Rad Stays Rad” is no less demonstration of their having done so than the driving punk of the Oliveri-fronted “Evel Never Dies.” The vibe is nostalgic in that song, as well as “Rad Stays Rad,” the gleefully funked “Stand Down,” and “The Older Kids,” but if Stöner is about looking back at this point, they’re doing so with fresh eyes.

To wit, “Own Yer Blues,” “Nothin’,” and the 13-minute mint-jam finale “Tribe/Fly Girl” are more endemic of who these players have become than who they were in the early ’90s or before, and that applies to “Stand Down” too. Bjork‘s vocals sound double-tracked on some of the parts (or at least close delay), but he and Oliveri work well together as one would expect, and as a reveal for what these guys had come up with in renewing their collaboration, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4 offers seven memorable songs that would make anything more seem unnecessarily fancied up. If their calling card is that rad stays rad, they prove it. And I know he’s not the top bill in the trio with Bjork‘s flow and Oliveri‘s bass tone, but Gut‘s contributions here aren’t to be understated.

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Mountain Tamer, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 5

mountain tamer live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

Second only to Stöner in curiosity factor, L.A. trio Mountain Tamer have always held a darker edge in their sound, and that comes through in the brash 36 minutes, shouts and screams echoing out over fuzzed garage metal in a fuckall that’s punk in attitude but angrier in its underlying core. Guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hall, bassist Dave Teget and drummer Casey Garcia are the kind of band who open the show and sell the most merch when they’re done. The elements they’re working with are familiar and have been all along in their decade together and across their three LPs — the latest of them, 2020’s Psychosis Ritual (review here), was released by Heavy Psych Sounds — but more even than in their studio work, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 5 brought to light just how much their own their sound really is.

Whether languid as in “Chained” or “Black Noise” or furious as in “Warlock” and “Living in Vain,” Mountain Tamer give Nebula a run for their money in terms of chaos, and easily make for the most pissed off listen of the bunch in Live in the Mojave Desert. The relative roughness of their edge suits them, however, and the rampant echo on the guitar assures there’s still a spacious sound to act as counterbalance to all that thrashing and gnashing. If you can call it balance, I don’t know, but it works for them and they wield their sound as knife more than bludgeon when it comes to it.

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Stream Review: Stöner, ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’

Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Stöner

And just like that, the ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ stream series comes to its apparent conclusion, with the reveal of Stöner, a new project that brings together guitarist/vocalist Brant Bjork, bassist/vocalist Nick Oliveri and drummer Ryan Gut. There was no interview in the preceding ‘Couchlock and Rock’ segment, but clips of prior editions from Earthless (review here), Mountain Tamer (review here), Nebula (review here) and Spirit Mother (review here) came across with plugs for impending live-album vinyls and videos followed presumably out of the TubeVision archive of Brant Bjork and the Brosfrom 2004 and Oliveri‘s long-running outfit Mondo Generator — which in the shown 2003 incarnation had Bjork on drums and Oliveri‘s fellow Queens of the Stone Age alum Dave Catching on guitar. Not too shabby.

However, the main event was, of course, the main event. Duly dramatic footage of OliveriBjork and Gut walking up to the spot led in, and a quick glance at some lyrics in with the setlist on a clipboard offered a subtle reminder of just how new this outfit is. Over the next 40-plus minutes of playing, Stöner established a feel that was at once familiar and fresh. In our interview last weekBjork spoke about how the central idea of the project was to strip away any sense of expectation or idea of what it should be, just to go back to the roots of where they started and have fun playing together. Fair enough.

Stöner set about delivering on that promise quickly. Their opener, “Rad Stays Rad” — with its hook of “Shit don’t change/Rad stays rad” — might as well be their mission statement, and if they don’t call their eventual studio LP The Birth of Rad, I’ll be a little bummed out. The first lines of the song are a Ramones reference and they’re set to a riff that wouldn’t at all have been out of place coming from Blues for the Red Sun era Kyuss. Locked in that they-made-it-look-simple but still urgent groove, and as much as the songs were new, the parts that made them up were about classic as desert rock gets. That “Rad Stays Rad” was presented in a kind of high-contrast sepia only enhanced that feel.

Room for jams? Oh, most certainly. “Rad Stays Rad” stretched out a bit with Bjork‘s solo section and thereby revealed a little more of Stöner‘s dynamic at this early stage. Oliveri and Bjork go way back, to before Kyuss was Kyuss. Let’s call it 35 years, give or take. And Gut is the drummer in Bjork‘s solo band, so they’re plenty familiar with each other from touring together as well. So the new creative relationship in the trio is between Oliveri and Gut, and there were moments in the set — not so much “Rad Stays Rad” or the similarly riffed and well-hooked “The Older Kids,” but later on — where both would watch Bjork for the lead. There wasn’t a stumble from what I could tell watching/listening, and they were as tight as they wanted to be, it was just something you could see a couple times that subtly tipping off the fact that this band hasn’t toured yet. Blah blah circumstances blah blah.

Oliveri took lead vocals for “Evel Never Dies,” a punkier shout with the delivery he’s settled into that’s not quite a scream but not quite sung either. Like “Rad Stays Rad” and “The Older Kids,” there was a sense of nostalgia to the theme, the title of course nodding both at “evil” never dying and daredevil Evel Knievel. Gut took the change in purpose and forward momentum in stride — he’s the secret weapon here; even a change in how hard he hits the snare does much to affect the vibe of a given song — and Stöner slid easily into the more propulsive cut, the sun setting around them casting shadows from the joshua trees.

stoner band

They returned to the mid-tempo push with the shorter-seeming “Nothin'” and the sky turned duly purple for that and the subsequent “Own Yer Blues,” slower, more languid in the laid-back-heavy tradition of Bjork‘s solo work, but with a chorus worthy of being the first impression the band made (and it was; a video premiered for it ahead of the stream that you can see below). The chorus, “By afternoon you own yer blues,” took a similar perspective as “Rad Stays Rad” and “The Older Kids”; a mature voice speaking from a place of experience, sort of looking back but not in a way that’s trying to retro-fy or capture something lost. Some more guttural delivery from Bjork at the end of the track underscored the point, and though sometimes watching Oliveri play a mellower song is like waiting for a cannon to go off, he nailed it. Dude’s reputation precedes him — blah blah shotgun standoff blah blah Cocaine Rodeo — but he’s the guy for the job, no question.

“Stand Down” and “Tribe/Flygirl” followed. Nighttime. Drones buzzing around dark rocks, dark yellow light. Too cool. You got your dose of funk in “Stand Down” to pick up the tempo from “Own Yer Blues” and “Tribe/Flygirl” brought the Stöner jam in fashion that earned the umlaut. Call it mood, or vibe, or whatever you want, but you’d be lucky to get those three in order on side B to close out the record as they happened in the set — well, I guess they will on the live album. In any case, it was right there in those three later pieces that BjorkOliveri and Gut seemed most locked in. They’d got through the rock, through the punk and into the headier, stonier fare, and it showed how far out they’re ready to go, even as a brand new band. By the time they brought it down and Oliveri hit the last bass rumble to cap the performance, there was little else to say but “fucking right on.” Coming from anyone else, you would say Stöner just sounds like someone pretending they’re these guys. Coming from them, you can only call it honest.

This was ‘Vol. 4’ of ‘Live in the Mojave Desert,’ despite airing after ‘Vol. 5,’ which featured Mountain Tamer. With continued producing/directing by project-creator Ryan Jones, filming by Spearhead Media, audio by Dan Joeright at Gatos Trail Recording Studio in Joshua Tree and a mix/master by Matt Lynch (also of Snail) at Mysterious Mammal in L.A., it was a duly rousing finish. An ongoing business dispute between Jones and Bjork gave the viewing a bittersweet edge, but there was no denying that in this showcase as well as in the other ‘episodes,’ they found their Pompeii out in the desert. Whatever happens with the world outside, with tours being booked again and venues maybe surviving the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’d be lucky to get ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ season two. Until then, we own our blues.

Stöner, “Own Yer Blues” from ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’

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Live Stream Review: Mountain Tamer, Live in the Mojave Desert

Posted in Reviews on March 8th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

mountain tamer live in the mojave desert with text

I’ve never been so fortunate as to see Los Angeles trio Mountain Tamer live, and for the better part of the last six years — through their MTN TMR demo (review here), their signing to Argonauta for their 2016 self-titled debut LP (review here), the jump to Nasoni and Magnetic Eye for the follow-up, 2018’s Godfortune//Dark Matters (review here), and most recently, a shift to Heavy Psych Sounds for 2020’s Psychosis Ritual (review here), as well as various singles along the way — I’ve been trying to reconcile the sinister edge in their sound. Just what it is that makes Mountain Tamer who they are as a band.

Because they’ve always been individual. I don’t think you get to notch so many impressive labels under your belt — three records, four imprints — unless there’s something unique about you, especially as a young group. After watching their ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ stream on a sunny Saturday afternoon, as well as their ‘Couchlock and Rock’ interview segment with ‘Mojave’ showrunner Ryan Jones as guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hall and drummer Casey Garcia recounted tour stories of watching a naked man on PCP be brought down by police and firefighters at six in the morning in Oklahoma, I feel like I have a little better understanding of where they’re coming from.

Angry psych. Hall noted it in his interview as well, that he was having a rough time seeing his pedal board while they played — the word “challenge” was used multiple times, which took as diplomacy-speak for “fucking pain in the ass” — but that seems only to have fueled in their performance what was already in the songs the entire time. They’re pissed. There’s a lot of psychedelia out there today, but not a lot of it is legit angry. There’s political commentary, there’s party-psych, mellow-peaceful-groovy psych, space rock, all that stuff. Mountain Tamer have found a way to hone inner disaffection into a lysergic rager in a way that no one else I’ve heard does.

It comes through on their records, and listening back to Psychosis Ritual, it’s there for sure, but the rawness of their form was front and center for the ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ stream. As they have been for the entire series, sound and production level were both top notch, and where their trippy garage noise metal might otherwise have been eaten by the expanse of Joshua Tree National Park, Hall, Garcia and bassist Dave Teget came through sounding full, mad, and purposeful. It’s not that their psych is a bummer, but if you get it drunk enough it might break something.

mountain tamer

Teget, who was the only member absent from the interview as Jones led a taste-test of Mountain Tamer‘s new pineapple and cactus fruit hot sauce — impressively, they grew their own peppers — plays like a headbanger, and headbangs while he plays. Watching him tear into Psychosis Ritual cuts like set-opener “Warlock” and “Turoc Maximus Antonis,” I was reminded of Scott Reeder in old Kyuss videos: hair in front of face, stomping around like at any moment he might just stumble down, some straight-out circle headbangs in Teget‘s case. It was not laid back. It was not serene. It was animalia, suited to the wilder surroundings of not-a-venue as he kicked up sand along the way. Through performances by Earthless (review here), Nebula (review here) and Spirit Mother (review here), he has been the most physical player yet shown in ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ series. If this were a high school yearbook, he’d easily walk away with Most Likely to Spill Beer on Stage. I mean that as a compliment.

Only the title-track of Psychosis Ritual wasn’t played, and the three-piece brought out “Funeral of a Dog” and the downer-boogie “Living in Vain Pt. II” to close, the former finding Hall breaking out a maraca before tossing it into the sand and hitting into the next riff. “Chained” and “Scorched Earth” might’ve been the most resolutely pissed off they got, but that edge was right there from “Warlock,” and even as things smoothed out, “Death in the Woods” and “Black Noise” made sure their grungy aggro-spaciousness was given its fair shake. Kudos go to Garcia on the subtle class of his play and his ability to pull together the guitar spreading out in one direction and the bass digging in in another; these fascinating, sometimes conflicting impulses in the band’s sound.

Conspicuously absent was Mad Alchemy. The famed psychedelic lightshow purveyor has been on board for at least part of each stream to-date, but Mountain Tamer played the entirety of their set by sunlight, so I guess that was that. Kind of hard to light up the desert when you’re competing with a literal star. Fair enough. The 36-minute set will nonetheless make for a killer live record (not that I’ve heard it, but yeah, I have; don’t tell anybody), to be delivered in the US by ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ itself and in Europe by Heavy Psych Sounds. If they haven’t yet, Mountain Tamer should consider doing their next LP completely live in the studio. If ever there was a heavy psych band tailor-made for Steve Albini, here they are.

‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ is slated to continue in two weeks with Stöner, the anticipated new collaboration between Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri. Worth noting that Mountain Tamer were ‘Vol. 5’ in the series and Stöner ‘Vol. 4,’ but if we’re running out of order, my only response is a shrug. Jones and his company of humans and drones have proven at this point they can put on a show. I’m happy to tune in, whatever number we’re on.

Mountain Tamer, “Living in Vain Pt. II” from ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’

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Live Stream Review: Spirit Mother, Live in the Mojave Desert

Posted in Reviews on February 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

spirit mother live in the mojave desert vol 3

Long Beach, California-based four-piece Spirit Mother have the sound, look and mood pretty much nailed. Laced with echoing violin and lead guitar playing off each other in a song like “Martyrs” from their 2020 debut, Cadets (review here), if their inclusion as the third of five in the ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ series left anyone scratching their head, the issue is promptly cleared up once they start playing.

Directed by Ryan Jones (also of the Stoned and Dusted fest), edited by Sam Grant with Dan Joeright of Joshua Tree’s Gatos Trail Studio doing sound and psychedelic oil projections lighting up Skull Rock — because where else? — by Lance Gordon and his Mad Alchemy team, the level of production, the sheer concert film-ness of ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ remains staggering, and as parts of the country struggle to keep the lights and heat on and others are dug into cold winter chill, Jones and company successfully make the West-is-best argument seem moot.

As with prior installments featuring Earthless (review here) and Nebula (review here), Spirit Mother‘s ‘Live in the Mojave’ sets and lives up to a high standard. The first hour of the stream is dedicated to interview footage and the odd music video — a preview of Mountain Tamer still to come in the series, as well as clips from Stoned and Dusted and videos from Acid King and King Buffalo; all certainly welcome, content-wise — with Jones hosting in a kind of early-to-mid 1990s MTV atmosphere, including a few awkward moments preserved for posterity.

Unlike Earthless or Nebula, however, when Spirit Mother take the stage — by which I mean a kind of flat piece of land some distance away from Skull Rock, and, apparently, anything else, with lights on either side, projections around and behind and drones and hand-cameras (phones and not?) capturing it all — it’s already night. I don’t know why the band decided to start playing after dark, maybe it was just timing, but the decision meant more time for the liquid lightshow, and more Mad Alchemy is never a bad choice. Particularly for an act as atmospheric as Spirit Mother show themselves to be.

They start the set with what would seem to be a new song in “Toxic (Exodus Inc.)” and guitarist Sean McCormick and drummer Landon Cisneros, violinist/vocalist SJ and bassist/vocalist Armand Lance are immediately locked in. The vibe is vibe if you can vibe, like languid grunge blasted into outer space in the desert night. Credit to Cisneros, who puts on a clinic in holding together elements that a less capable drummer would simply watch fall apart in a cut like “Premonitions,” which begins the second half of the set after a quick break to find out everybody’s favorite live album — Allman Bros.Dave Brubeck, something classical from SJ I couldn’t quite hear over the wind — and ethereal bursts from Cadets like, indeed “Ether,” “Go Getter” and “My Head is Sinking.”

spirit mother live in the mojave desert

Spirit Mother‘s songs are fairly short, so they’re able to pack more in than, say, Earthless, and the double-effect that has is that it never quite lets them wander off. Lance as a vocalist is somewhere between grunge and shoegaze in his delivery, a classic sort of reluctance, keeping it casual as the bass drops out and returns to add impact to McCormick‘s steadier progressions of guitar. Off to stage right, SJ‘s violin fills out the sound with overarching melody as the movements grow more chaotic before cutting out cold, à la “Martyrs” or “Black Sheep,” both of which manage to take the listener/viewer for a ride in a little over three minutes’ time.

Her vocals feature more prominently on “Dead Cells,” which since my tired eyes can’t find it anywhere else I’ll assume is another new track, and that may be a hint of more active interplay between her and Lance in the lead role — she carries the song well and is a good match for Lance in attitude; belting “Dead Cells” out a bit works. Watching Cisneros playing “Space Cadets,” the opener of Cadets, one might be reminded a bit of The Golden GrassAdam Kriney in style, but there’s not the same kind of underlying intensity that feels like it’s trying to break out, and so Cisneros operates fluidly with the lumber in “Space Cadets” and elsewhere, helping not necessarily to keep things grounded, but at least cohesive on its own level, the songs feeling almost willfully incomplete, because really, what’s the point anyway, man?

I can’t argue. Spirit Mother are so Californian I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out they’re all originally from the Midwest, but they’re ridiculously suited to their purpose throughout ‘Live in the Mojave,’ locking in highlight grooves in “My Head is Sinking” or “Heathens” — the sudden stop there feeling especially cruel — which caps what turns out to be a pretty short evening’s set. It will make a killer live record — Italy’s Heavy Psych Sounds is seeing to that and I wouldn’t be surprised if they picked the band up for their sophomore studio release — but with the break in between, they’re at about 35 minutes of material, so yeah, a quick run.

In that time, however, they distinguish themselves in style and substance alike. Their songs function like poems rather than verse/chorus pieces, and the linear feel they bring about results in dynamic shifts as they play one into the next. The same was true of Cadets, of course, but to watch Spirit Mother playing live, even prior-recorded as this was, gives further insight into how they function as a unit, and with the new material, where they might be heading next. I only look forward to finding out.

The ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ can’t take the place of a concert experience, and it’s to its eternal credit that it isn’t trying. Instead, it democratizes a once-in-a-lifetime exclusivity — that night that you just happened to be in the right place in Joshua Tree National Park to find this — so that everyone can be that person, in that place, feeling like they’re floating above all the more as the drones hover around Skull Rock. If that’s escapism in the pandemic age, that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.

Spirit Mother, “Space Cadets” from ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’

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Video Interview: Tom Davies of Nebula Talks ‘Live in the Mojave’, New Album and More

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on February 10th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

nebula for interview

According to Nebula bassist/backing vocalist Tom Davies, the venerable Los Angeles trio have about 17 songs written for their next album in one stage or another of completion. Sounds like plenty, right? To put that to scale, 2019’s Holy Shit (review here) had nine. So that’s at least a full-length and probably an EP’s worth, with some odds and ends left over either for later or the riffy scrapheap. In any case, Davies, founding guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass and drummer Mike Amster are hoping to record in the next couple months with an eye toward releasing in the Fall.

If the last year taught humanity anything, though, it’s that the best laid plans often… catch the plague? Whatever. Nebula in 2020 were to have taken off on tour with fellow stoner legends Monster Magnet on a US tour that was to begin right around the time everything started locking down. The good news, I suppose, is they had time to write and work on 17 songs in a way they’ve never done before — Glass also became a father for the first time; his and his girlfriend’s baby has a cameo in the ‘Couchlock and Rock’ segment preceding their recent ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ livestream (review here), and is of course an adorable lump of mini-humanity as babies are at that stage of life — and whenever it surfaces, Holy Shit‘s follow-up will continue the band’s post-reunion shift back into a full-on working group.

And if you didn’t watch it, ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ is proof-positive of exactly why that’s good news. The trio, set up out in the desert, first sunset, then psychedelic oil projections from Mad Alchemy surrounding, live-album-worthy sound (which is fortunate, since the set will be a live album on Heavy Psych Sounds) and drones flying around capturing the whole thing — the production scale is massive for a livestream — but at the core of it is Nebula kicking ass in classic form. A power trio. Davies and Amster, with absolutely locked in grooves despite not having done a show in however long, while Glass rips out another solo because what the hell the world’s ending anyway. If that’s to be the shape of human dystopia, then at least we know hedonism will outlive us.

Davies, loungin’ in his home studio, took some time out to talk about the process of making the stream — he hadn’t seen the finished product yet when we spoke, and neither had I — as well as writing and recording, life during lockdown in the desert, and more.

Please enjoy:

Nebula Interview with Tom Davies, Feb. 4, 2021

A video of “Let’s Get Lost” was posted as a preview for the full stream that aired this past weekend. You can see that and stream Holy Shit in its entirety both below.

Nebula, “Let’s Get Lost” from Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2

Nebula, Holy Shit (2019)

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Live Stream Review: Nebula, Live in the Mojave Desert

Posted in Reviews on February 8th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

nebula live in the mojave desert with header

A good many have tried, but the special off-the-rails sensibility in Nebula has never properly been duplicated. Often associated with the Californian desert rock scene — something the trio played into with the fisheye-instruments-on-sand cover art for their 1999 debut, To the Center (discussed here, also here), though it was recorded in Seattle — they might in fact be the last great stoner rock band, founded by guitarist Eddie Glass alongside fellow Fu Manchu alums Mark Abshire and Ruben Romano. With Glass‘ classic shred and loose swinging riffs, drawling vocals and flourishes of hard garage and psychedelia throughout, Nebula have nonetheless remained a punk act throughout their tenure, and that combination of elements in the precise measure brought to bear by Glass — now joined in the cause by bassist/backing vocalist Tom Davies and drummer Mike Amster (also Mondo Generator, ex-Blaak Heat, etc.) — has made them a standout for over two decades.

That tenure was interrupted following the release of 2009’s Heavy Psych (review here) and a 2010 split with Quest for Fire on Tee Pee Records, but with a return in 2017 that led to much touring and the release of 2019’s comebacker Holy Shit (review here), Nebula have remained vital, and more importantly, have remained Nebula. As the second installment of producer/director Ryan Jones‘ ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ stream series, they seem right at home for a band who spent 2020 off the road. Maybe there’s a little shaking off the dust as they get started with the title-track of the aforementioned To the Center, but between the desert wind and the air being pushed by Amster‘s kick and the amps of Davies and Glass, there’s little to worry about in that regard.

The basic idea of presentation was much the same as with the first installment a couple weeks ago that featured Earthless (review here): take a heavy band out to the desert, set them up with pro audio and lights, multiple cameras, drones buzzing around getting wide shots and scenery, and when night falls, let Mad Alchemy‘s Lance Gordon and crew light it up with psychedelic oil projections as it seems only they could. Following an hour of interview and preview/promotional programming — including sample audio from upcoming Spirit Mother and Mountain Tamer streams — Nebula start circa sunset under a gorgeous turquoise sky and tear into a set of new material and old with signature ferocity, the inheritors of whatever oozing degenerate vibe once made The Stooges seem so dangerous, and soon enough are jamming through “Man’s Best Friend,” “Giant” from 2001’s Charged and “Clearlight” again from the debut, drones still showing a bit of daylight left though the band seem by then thoroughly locked into a world of their own.

Spacey samples push the far-far-out feel for “Clearlight,” and after new song “Wall of Confusion” and Holy Shit‘s “Tomorrow Never Comes,” there’s a quick interview break filmed after the set that acts as a buffer before the second half of the show. They talk about favorite concert films — Live at Pompeii, The Song Remains the Samethough Glass is largely unintelligible beneath a gorilla mask. As one might suspect, when they restart, it’s with the Mad Alchemy light show behind them, and “Let’s Get Lost,” which served last week as a preview clip ahead of the full performance airing, earns its place as a focal point here as well.

nebula

It is an anti-anthem, a punk track that’s too high to see straight and too talented to fall completely apart, though not for lack of trying. The lyrics “take some drugs,” “drop out” and “society’s a bummer” flash on the screen before the song is deconstructed to synthy sampling and effects noise, Amster‘s holding-it-all-together drums signaling the transition into “Messiah,” another Holy Shit highlight, which Glass solos into oblivion leading to a moment of silence that’s so loud it’s damn near poignant. Wait. Am I supposed to be feeling feelings right now?

No time. “Perfect Rapture” from the Quest for Fire split drawls into the more uptempo “It’s All Over” and “Witching Hour,” a quick nod to Dead Kennedys included, and they finish cold as the video fades out. By then, Nebula have clearly demonstrated their much-missed unfuckwithability as a live act, and the lack of crowd — with a substantial crew, some trailers shown in the early drone shots, porta-johns, trucks tucked off to the side, and so on, they’re not quite void of audience — does nothing to dull their impact. Their dynamic has changed over the years with different players, but the unhinged nature of their approach remains singular and remains their own.

Watching a Nebula stream would probably already be the kind of thing that’s a highlight of whatever afternoon, and they’ve done one or two prior to this. The difference, of course, is the professional, concert-film level at which ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ is executed. On a sheer production level, it’s unmatched by anything I’ve seen in the streaming era, and in the use of visual effects, Sam Grant‘s skillful, rhythmic editing, the inclusion of Mad Alchemy and the sense of urgency that’s driving the whole project, it is a rare positive marker for this time that has disintegrated the live music experience and perhaps changed it permanently.

I mean that. ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ rises to meet the moment in which it’s happening. It’s not about a middle finger to COVID, though I guess it’s that too, and it’s not just a reminder that bands are still cool. It’s something more its own; a grand-scale passion project that’s open to public view. Will people talk about Nebula at Skull Rock like Pink Floyd in Pompeii? Shit if I know. Ask me in 50 years. But right now, the comfort and the reassurance ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ provides isn’t to be understated. For just a little while, letting go mentally and and following those drones as they soar over lit-up boulders, it kind of seems like it’ll just be what it’s gonna be. Life’s hard, everything’s hard, but at least there’s this.

Nebula, “Let’s Get Lost” from Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2

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Nebula: “Let’s Get Lost” Video from Live in the Mojave Desert Posted

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 4th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

nebula live in the mojave desert

It is my hope that by the time this post reaches your eyes — tomorrow morning or early afternoon to me, stuck in the past — you’ve not only already seen this video already, but it’s entirety superfluous because you’re not only aware of how righteous it is, you’ve already secured your access to Nebula‘s ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ stream, the second in the series of five being put on by producer Ryan Jones (also of the Stoned and Dusted fest), which airs this Saturday.

If you missed it, the first installment in the series featured Earthless (review here), and I’m not shitting you when I say it was such stuff as dreams are made of. And if you can think of a better follow-up to have shredding fuzz in the desert night than Nebula (among bands who actually exist), then cheers, you’re one up on me. Door prizes include spending 12 years of your life blogging imaginary conversations with no one. Good luck.

Like the Earthless stream, there will be two hours of programming. First hour, interviews, all very super-casual and Californian. Second hour, you get to watch Nebula kill it in hi def. If you were to actually go to a show and see Nebula, as I did in Sept. 2019 (review here), it still would not be the same as this experience, not only because it’s clearer than you’re seeing any night Nebula are playing, but also because of the Mad Alchemy crew lighting up the desert night, the pro-shop audio mix and master, and the fucking drones buzzing around taking video from above.

Look. If we’ve ever been friends, I’m telling you, this series is something special. And I know they’re putting out vinyl and videos and whatever after the fact through Heavy Psych Sounds, and I’m sure as hell not going to say don’t buy it — because, yeah, do — but this is the kind of thing that if you’re not on board for it as it’s happening, you stand a good chance of regretting that later. That’s all I’ve got.

Here’s Nebula doing “Let’s Get Lost”:

Nebula, “Let’s Get Lost” from Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2

LIVE IN THE MOJAVE DESERT is a livestream concert film series created in the California wilderness, with performances from Earthless, Nebula, Spirit Mother, Mountain Tamer, and STONER (a new band by Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri).

Each film will be presented in a world-premiere, 1080p HD livestream event hosted by the California Desert Wizards, the bands, and your favorite rock heroes of the California Desert Rock scene. It’s gonna be a party so get ready for rad music, good times, and other far out content.

Each event will last two hours which will include an hour long “Couchlock and Rock” session featuring a chat hosted by the California Desert Wizards alongside special guests including band members and icons from the California Desert Rock scene—think if MTV in the 80’s was run by heshers and stoners. The second hour will feature the 1080p HD livestream concert film experience. The band lineup includes:

EARTHLESS – Saturday, January 23
NEBULA – Saturday, February 6
SPIRIT MOTHER – Saturday, February 20
MOUNTAIN TAMER – Saturday, March 6
STONER (the new project from Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri)– Saturday, March 20

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Live Stream Review: Earthless, Live in the Mojave Desert

Posted in Reviews on January 25th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

earthless live in the mojave desert

Godspeed, Earthless. You carry the hopes and thanks of a grateful nation of weirdos.

The on-paper proposition doesn’t really do justice to actually seeing nighttime desert rocks painted with light while Earthless tear a hole in the galaxy as only they seem able to do. Earthless, Live in the Mojave Desert, while accurate in terms of the basic who and what and where, hardly begins to cover it.

I have watched a number of show-replacement streams at this point. “Well, no concerts because pandemic, so here’s this.” That’s not what this was. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience shared with anyone who had the foresight to acquire a pass. I don’t mind telling you I got emotional. On the sheer level of sensory input, it was hard not to be overwhelmed.

So there’s Earthless — guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton, drummer Mario Rubalcaba — out by Skull Rock in the desert. There were shots of them riding out in the back of a pickup truck, answering interview questions and so on; extraordinarily idyllic to a very specific audience to see Mitchell rattle off a current-listening list upwards of 30 including Ry Cooter, Hendrix and Buddhist chanting. They started playing in daytime and seemed to cut until night, at which point Lance Gordon and the crew of the famed Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show came aboard and, together with the stage lighting, proceeded to color the night. Drone shots have perspective of the impressive scope of the event, and live audio by Dan Joeright of Gatos Trail Studio in Joshua Tree, not to mention mastering by John McBain, assured clarity at no loss of vitality.

It was, at the end, a work of love on the part of producer/director Ryan Jones, best known as one of the parties responsible for the Stoned and Dusted fest. This series of five streams that Earthless kicked off is more than just a show to watch for would-be real-life attendees. Sitting in my living room on a cold January afternoon, it was pure sonic escapism, made all the more resonant by the raw immersion of Earthless live. Something I’d probably never get to see otherwise, pandemic or not. It wasn’t trying to be a show happening in a dark venue somewhere. It was more like a hybrid concert and concert film, presented live in the new medium that the horror show of last year brought to prominence.

The production was flawless. And no, they weren’t actually live. I think it was filmed in November, but even as a streaming premiere, the work editing and splicing in visual effects and different shots only enhanced the viewing experience. Watching dudes perform to a single camera in their rehearsal room has a certain appeal to it, and I won’t say otherwise, but this was something special. Whether it was “Violence of the Red Sea” in daylight or “Sonic Prayer” and “Lost in the Cold Sun” closing out at night, it felt like a gift, a celebration honoring live music that, yeah, made you miss it, but managed to offer something of its own beyond that sad nostalgia for what’s been lost in the COVID era. Jones and his crew filming, the audio, lighting, tech people, the logistics work — it was all astounding to comprehend.

There will be four more, with NebulaSpirit MotherMountain Tamer and Stoner between now and the beginning of March. Then come the live albums, blu-rays, and so on. Without falling into some kind of “in this moment” cliché about the times humanity is living through — I guess the lucky ones are living, with upwards of 4,000 deaths per day — the fact of the matter is that even if gigs were happening, the Live in the Mojave Desert series would be something incredible to witness. If you saw this one on its first airing or you chase it down later, it is stuff of which legends are made. Recommended.

Earthless, “Sonic Prayer” snippet from Live in the Mojave Desert

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