Days of Rona: Dee Calhoun of Spiral Grave

Posted in Features on April 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. — JJ Koczan

dee calhoun

Days of Rona: Dee Calhoun of Spiral Grave (Frederick, Maryland)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

With Spiral Grave, we’ve put rehearsals off. We are spread so far apart that the distance is already a challenge, and now even more so with people being asked to please stay in. Everyone is doing fine health-wise, just trying to stay as active as possible. I’ve been able to keep working on my solo music with no issues, so that is a huge help mentally.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

In Maryland, all non-essential businesses are closed, and schools are currently closed until April 27th. I’m one of the very lucky ones, I’m still able to work full-time, and am teleworking until further notice. I go out for groceries and that’s about it.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

It seems to be drawing the music community closer together. We’re a family here, and right now we’re cut off from family and it sucks. It is wonderful though, seeing all the live streams and things, getting to see bands and artists in ways that you don’t usually get to see them. I think it will make for a greater appreciation of live music once the Earth starts spinning again.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

In talking to Willy, Lou and Mot, we’re all doing well. We’re bummed out that things are the way they are, but we’re each trying to be smart and do the things we should be doing while this is happening. Personally, I’m hanging in there, and I’m proud to see my kids handling the situation the way they are. I tell Rob to pay close attention to what’s going on, because future generations are going to want to know about it. Learn from this, in the hopes that society comes out better on the other side of it.

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Revvnant Post New Single “The Second Coming”

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

revvnant

I do my best to not talk about politics on this site, and I’m not always successful. I am of the firm belief that everything — even the decision not to talk about politics on this site — is political. So as Revvnant, which is the post-The Flying Eyes project helmed by that band’s drummer Elias Schutzman (here cast as a multi-instrumentalist/vocalist), unveil the new single “The Second Coming” with lyrics derived from Yeats‘ poem of the same name — “what rough beast” and all that — it’s harder than usual not to engage with the political moment in which we’re living. As much as COVID-19 would seem to be the plague of our times — or at least until the next one hits — perhaps too one might consider the persistent spread of the schism between sides of humanity that might lead some people not to care as others are dying. I know that’s nothing new, but it sure is stark these days.

If you’re not considering radical labor action, you probably don’t work at a grocery store right now. I know the young woman who scanned my blueberries at Shop-Rite yesterday was thinking about putting a bullet in my brain, and I can’t fault her for that.

Capitalism. Symptoms and causes.

Enjoy the track:

revvnant the second coming

Elias Schutzman on “The Second Coming”:

Shortly after the 2016 election I came across the apocalyptic poem “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats… It perfectly expressed the existential dread I was feeling so I decided to put it to music, enlisting the help of Adam Bufano (my long time bandmate in The Flying Eyes) on guitar. I wasn’t really planning to release it, but in this moment it feels so relevant. This song isn’t the “feel good jam” people probably wanna hear right now. But for me music is supposed to express truth, no matter how dark and ugly that is. And the truth here is we are in deep shit. We have a “leader” who cannot, or will not adequately protect us in this time of crisis, instead feeding us incessant lies and looking out for his own self interest. If we don’t remove this human virus from office, we will truly reap the whirlwind…if we haven’t already.

Lyrics adapted from William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming”…

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

released March 24, 2020

Elias Schutzman- Vocals, Synthesizers, Programming
Adam Bufano- Guitar
Stella- Backing Vocals

Produced and mixed by Elias Schutzman

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https://revvnant.bandcamp.com/

Revvnant, “The Second Coming”

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Clutch Release “Willie Nelson” Weathermaker Vault Single; Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Clearly, Clutch have found a kindred soul in video director David Brodsky. I don’t know how many clips the two parties have worked on together at this point, but the latest, for the Weathermaker Vault Series redux of if-a-single-could-have-a-cult-following-this-one-does “Willie Nelson” — which also brings the band back together with producer/engineer J. Robbins; a sort of homecoming bound to be welcomed to longtime fans and which indeed works well in the track — is perhaps the best of them. Neil Fallon shaves his beard, hell breaks loose. It’s genius.

Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dan Maines in a more fitting scenario than playing bass in a wingback chair. Dude looks like he was born to be there. I’m 100 percent serious. He should bring one on stage.

My prior favorite version of “Willie Nelson” was on the 2004 High Volume compilation from High Times Magazine, but I’m digging the harmonies here pretty hard. Might have a contender.

But either way, yeah, watch the video. Right now:

clutch willie nelson

CLUTCH RELEASE BRAND NEW STUDIO RECORDING OF “WILLIE NELSON” AS PART OF THE “WEATHERMAKER VAULT SERIES”

Clutch announce the release of the new studio recording of the track “Willie Nelson.” The single is the sixth in a series of new studio recordings that comprise the Weathermaker Vault Series.

“Willie Nelson is a song we wrote close to 20 years ago,” says Neil Fallon. “It started making appearances in our sets recently, so we figured now was a good time to re-record it. This time around Shawna Potter (War On Women) added back up vocals and is in the video as well. And for what it’s worth, ‘Red Headed Stranger’ gets regular play on our tour bus.” The single was recently re-recorded and remixed by J. Robbins (Jawbox, Jawbreaker, The Sword, Against Me!), and the track comes in at 3:21. “Willie Nelson” was originally released in 2003 on Clutch’s album Slow Hole To China: Rare and Unreleased “Willie Nelson.”

Available on all digital outlets here: https://orcd.co/x0y2pbw.

Director: David Brodsky for MyGoodEye (www.facebook.com/mygoodeye)
Producer: Allison Woest
Editor: David Brodsky and Allison Woest
Cameras: David Brodsky and Allison Woest
Lighting Design: Adam Pernick
Grip: Eddie Collins
Personal Assistant to Lead Canine (Hades): Amber Hoffman

CLUTCH:
Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

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Clutch, “Willie Nelson” official video

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Arbouretum, Let it All In: Water and Wind

Posted in Reviews on March 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Arbouretum Let it All In

In some ways, Arbouretum‘s seventh album, Let it All In, tells you what you need to know right there in the title. It is a summary of the emotional perspective of the songs and the general outlook of the aesthetic, which embraces the world around it with open eyes and a keen sense of absorption and reflection, taking in ideas and melodies, turning them into cohesive expression, and giving them back in the form of eight songs that are as widely varied and stylistically adventurous as anything guitarist/vocalist/principal songwriter David Heumann and the Baltimore-based outfit have ever done before.

Issued by Thrill Jockey, it’s an album that might strum out electric folk blues on the way to an unexpected and understated guitar-goes-wandering jam on “No Sanctuary Blues” and then just as easily put keyboardist Matthew Pierce (also woodwinds) in the lead on synth for the two-minute instrumental “Night Theme,” the songs finding union through a thematic around the natural world even when Heumann‘s voice isn’t there to tie the material together. And it’s worth noting that even as Heumann, Pierce, drummer Brian Carey, bassist Corey Allendar and percussionist/drummer David Bergander get underway in opener “How Deep it Goes” — the title of which is doubly noteworthy as Heumann‘s 2015 solo debut was Here in the Deep (review here) — Heumann shifts his approach to a higher register so that the gentle delivery to be found on the subsequent quietly marching “A Prism in Reverse” and later pieces like “Buffeted by Wind” is replaced right away by something less familiar, something new. This as well speaks to the ethic of Let it All In as a whole, which remains distinctly Arbouretum‘s own while pushing the limits of what that means.

Tracked in a return collaboration by Steve Wright at Wright Way Studios in Baltimore with mastering by Sarah Register, the album is invariably marked out by its title-track, which arrives as an unmatched sprawl topped 11 minutes and taps into motorik beats and a sense of thrust that nothing else here or in recent memory from Arbouretum comes close to matching, be it 2017’s Song of the Rose (review here), 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here) or 2011’s The Gathering. They’ve certainly jammed and incorporated psychedelic aspects before — “The Rise” on 2007’s Rites of Uncovering was a positive freakout — but even with the additional percussion of Mike Kehl and Mike Lowry (the former also appears on “No Sanctuary Blues”) as part of the proceedings, “Let it All In” brings a progressive sense of construction that holds to its purpose even as it moves into further reaches. It goes, in short, until it stops.

Arbouretum (photo by Patrick McQuade)

And it’s not so much about pushing to the outer limits of — what? expectation? — as it is finding a place on the borderline between celebration and exploration; a fuzzy lead that takes hold around seven minutes in does no less than dance over the central rhythm beneath it, winding its way with a sure-handed cosmic pull. And since “Let it All In” is the penultimate inclusion on the album that shares its name, and since by the time it comes around, Arbouretum have already found the pastoral serenity in a post-truth world on “How Deep it Goes,” set to the organ-inclusive warm spaciousness of “A Prism in Reverse” — reminding of precisely the kind of “heft” in which they’ve long specialized, as well as the essential role of Allendar‘s bass tone therein — pulled all the wires and laid back down on “No Sanctuary Blues,” cast the meditative space of “Night Theme,” rambled and reveled in the fuzz-folk of “Headwaters II” with particularly satisfying snare punctuation, and reclaimed the shimmer on “Buffeted by Wind,” really the only thing left to do is throw in a bit of honky-tonk and call it a day, right? Right? Because where else do you go after the 11-minute flowing space-prog epic other than the ’70s AOR saloon, graced with piano by Hans Chew and culminating in an apex further marked out by an arrangement of trumpet and flugelhorn by Dave Ballou? How could it possibly be otherwise.

Of course, it works. The sudden turn from riding-light-through-the-galaxy to “High Water Song” (note also the opening “How Deep it Goes” to the closing “High Water Song” thematic bookend) might not make sense on paper, but as Arbouretum have proved on a reliable basis before, it’s the songwriting itself that is the underlying foundation of everything they do. The difference between Let it All In and even Song of the Rose, which was by no means lacking in breadth, is simply that they go further in a broader range of directions. All of these elements have been in their sound all along, but it’s as though the band have sought to reshuffle the balance thereof and the material is intended to highlight the varying facets of their approach. But again, it works, because of songwriting. After 15-plus years, Arbouretum have no trouble in positioning the listener where they want them to be, and with an overarching sense of melodic detail in vocals and instrumentation alike, from “How Deep it Goes” onward, Let it All In serves as its own best advice.

There is no mistaking a standout moment like Heumann‘s voice ringing out the repeated lines of “No Sanctuary Blues” — the whole song seems to come to a halt and give him the space to do so, then recover as it makes its way into its jam — but whether it’s that highlight or the sweet procession of “A Prism in Reverse” or the sunshine-laced bounce of “Buffeted by Wind,” the album as an entirety earns its communion with the natural world, and maybe it is looking for a sanctuary, or some manner of escape, but there’s nothing cloying or desperate about it. It remains clearheaded for the 45-minute duration and lets the horns finish “High Water Song” in a clean, sharp, but still fluid finish, serving as one final reminder that Arbouretum are no less accomplished than they are underrated. You’ll either let it in or you won’t, but if you take the time to listen, a record like this only makes your life richer.

Arbouretum, Let it All In (2020)

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Clutch to Release 18LP The Obelisk Box Set for Record Store Day April 18

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Look, I’m not even going to pretend to flatter myself here in thinking either I or this site would ever be on this band’s radar whatsoever. Clutch might’ve known who I was when I worked in print media due to the fact that basically I stalked them and their poor publicist, but I cut a different profile these days — literally and figuratively — so yeah. It’s a cute coincidence.

The reference Clutch are obviously making in titling their 12-album/18LP box set The Obelisk comes from their 1995 self-titled second album, the line from the song “Escape from the Prison Planet” that goes, “Rebuild the remnants of the obelisk, one mile from the pyramids” (which actually isn’t where I got the name of this site from, but again, that’s not relevant and neither am I; see above). And certainly that’s what they’re doing here. They’re rebuilding the remnants. clutch-the-obelisk-boxPutting 12 albums in the same place definitely counts. I guess that’s everything they’ve done through Weathermaker at any point — I’m not sure as to what is actually going to be in this thing, whether it’s all their studio albums, or some of those minus the major-label stuff that Weathermaker never reissued, but with live recordings, or maybe something new like a comp of the Weathermaker Singles Series or what. I have no idea. None. Don’t ask.

All I know is it’s out April 18 for Record Store Day 2020 as part of an ongoing tradition Clutch have, and that someone sent me the link to a preorder page through Season of Mist in Europe. Apparently Europe is getting 200 of them. No clue as to how many North America might end up with, but I wouldn’t think it’ll be nearly enough.

Clutch US dates for April and May — they’ll also be in South America in April — and they’re in Australia this month and UK/Europe later in the summer. You know how they do. I reformatted everything listed on their site, so here’s that, along with the info for The Obelisk, which I cut and pasted right off the Season of Mist page.

Here it is [UPDATE MARCH 6: New details came down the PR wire. I’ve included them here in place of the info from the preorder page]:

clutch the obelisk

Clutch – The Obelisk

“The Obelisk” is a box set that is comprised of all of Clutch’s Weathermaker Music vinyl releases. There are six double LP’s, three 12″ LPs, and three 12″ picture discs all together in a beautifully designed box set. In addition, the box contains a turntable mat and a square, artist signed lithograph. The rigid box has a magnetic closure and the silver foil is stamped on black Sierra cloth. This is a unique collector’s item and only 1,000 boxes were made for worldwide sales.

The individual 12” vinyl releases are Full Fathom Five (2xLP), Live At The Googolplex (Picture Disc), Jam Room (Picture Disc). Pitchfork & Lost Needles (Picture Disc), La Curandera, Strange Cousins From The West (2xLP),Blast Tyrant (2xLP), Robot Hive/Exodus (2xLP), From Beale Street To Oblivion (2xLP) Earth Rocker, Psychic Warfare, and Book Of bad Decisions (2xLP).

Clutch Live 2020:
Fri, MAR 20 Download Festival 2020 Melbourne Ascot Vale, Australia
Sat, MAR 21 Download Festival 2020 Sydney Sydney, Australia
Sat, APR 4 Big Surf Tempe, AZ
Sun, APR 5 Palms Casino Resort Las Vegas, NV
Tue, APR 7 Mission Ballroom Denver, CO
Wed, APR 8 Silverstein Eye Centers Arena Independence, MO
Fri, APR 10 Irving Music Factory Irving, TX
Sat, APR 11 Ford Park Entertainment Complex Beaumont, TX
Mon, APR 13 Nashville Municipal Auditorium Nashville, TN
Tue, APR 14 Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum Knoxville, TN
Wed, APR 15 Coca-Cola Roxy Atlanta, GA
Thu, APR 16 Blind Tiger Greensboro, NC
Sun, APR 26 Fabrique Club São Paulo, Brazil
Tue, APR 28 UNICLUB Abasto, Argentina
Thu, APR 30 Club Chocolate Recoleta, Chile
Sat, MAY 2 Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Mexico, Mexico
Tue, MAY 5 Covelli Centre Youngstown, OH
Wed, MAY 6 Schottenstein Center Columbus, OH
Thu, MAY 7 The Machine Shop Flint, MI
Fri, MAY 8 The Machine Shop Flint, MI
Sat, MAY 9 The Rave / Eagles Club Milwaukee, WI
Sun, MAY 10 DeltaPlex Arena & Conference Center Grand Rapids, MI
Tue, MAY 12 UMBC Event Center Baltimore, MD
Wed, MAY 13 The Rooftop at Pier 17 New York City, NY
Fri, JUL 17 Ramblin’ Man Fair Maidstone, United Kingdom
Sat, JUL 18 Ramblin’ Man Fair Maidstone, United Kingdom
Sun, JUL 19 Ramblin’ Man Fair Maidstone, United Kingdom
Tue, JUL 21 Limelight Belfast, United Kingdom
Wed, JUL 22 The Academy Dublin 1, Ireland
Thu, JUL 23 O2 Academy Glasgow Glasgow, United Kingdom
Mon, JUL 27 ARTmania Festival Sibiu, Romania
Tue, JUL 28 MetalDays Tolmin, Slovenia
Thu, JUL 30 Kostrzy?skie Centrum Kultury Kostrzyn Nad Odr?, Poland
Sat, AUG 1 Gijon Gijón, Spain
Mon, AUG 3 Hard Club Porto, Portugal
Tue, AUG 4 CINETEATRO CAPITÓLIO Lisbon, Portugal
Wed, AUG 5 Open Flair Festival Eschwege, Germany
Thu, AUG 6 Rocco del Schlacko 2020 Püttlingen, Germany
Thu, AUG 6 Eiswiese Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany
Fri, AUG 7 Into The Grave Leeuwarden, Netherlands
Sat, AUG 8 Rocco Del Schlakko Saarbrücken, Germany
Sun, AUG 9 Taubertal Festival Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany
Tue, AUG 11 Sziget Festival Budapest, Hungary
Fri, AUG 14 Summer Breeze Open Air Dinkelsbühl, Germany
Sun, AUG 16 Kulturbolaget Malmö, Sweden
Tue, AUG 18 Gröna Lund Stockholm, Sweden
Wed, AUG 19 Sentrum Scene Oslo, Norway
Thu, AUG 20 Liseberg Göteborg, Sweden
Tue, SEP 22 Pukkelpop Festival Hasselt, Belgium

CLUTCH:
Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

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Clutch, “Evil” Live at Download Fest, UK, June 2019

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Revvnant Take on Gun Culture with “Automatic” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

revvnant

I don’t feel like it’s a risky political position to not support murder either on a mass or individual scale. Violence is a ubiquitous and foundational part of American culture, from the ongoing subjugation of the Native American population as part of the colonial process, to the continued stain on the nation’s soul that slavery represents — implicit bias, cultural appropriation, casual racism, fear, microaggression; it’s its own list — to the regular slaughters that pepper the news, to the rise of Antisemitism and xenophobic jingoism, to the glorification of rape for shock value in media at the same time an entire landscape of sexual violence is being unveiled, to every time a husband batters his wife behind a closed door and no one ever knows about it, or worse, everyone does but can’t or won’t do anything in response. As a people, we are complicit in violence against the earth itself every time we wear mass-produced clothing, eat Roundup-treated produce shipped by a truck, or run tap water through a 60-year-old lead pipe, use a car, plug in a refrigerator, or heat our homes. It is the way the world has been arranged for us and for as long as there is a planet hosting us, it is the inheritance our species will pass to the subsequent generations that follow our path, either blindly or conscious of their own shame.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe these things or not. Glaciers fall into water. People die. Life proceeds until it doesn’t. And violence was by no means invented by America, though American gun culture, as Revvnant‘s Elias Schutzman examines in the new single “Automatic,” does seem to be something that, at least for now, is particular to the national character. In the “Automatic” video, drone-wave undulations of riff and far-back dream-style vocals are set to footage of firearms being shot and various other portrayals of violence throughout culture, some insidious — televangelist preachers knocking people over to heal them, snakedancers, Charlie Manson, etc. — some subtle like the staring eyes of Bill Cosby selling Coke, Burt Reynolds smacking Marc Summers from Double Dare on The Tonight Show, and so on. But the visual hook is guns, and the focus is guns. Schutzman, formerly the drummer of The Flying Eyes and currently also in Black Lung, is hardly the first to tackle the subject, but the means through which he and Christopher Stone and Dave Gibson — who made the video — use it to tie the various sides together into a single description/perspective is clever and no less hypnotic than the song, which sets its trance around the refrain, “You’d better pray that god is really dead.”

So be it.

Revvnant, which also features Trevor Shipley (who worked with both The Flying Eyes and Black Lung in the past) alongside Schutzman, are donating proceeds from this debut single to the March for Our Lives via their Bandcamp, and there are far worse ways you could spend your money. Like on a gun. Or a snake.

Video and info follow:

Revvnant, “Automatic” official video

Elias Schutzman on “Automatic”:

“Automatic” is my livid critique of American gun culture, the epidemic of mass shootings, and the profiteers who lobby to keep the system in place. It’s just one of the many viruses that have infected our society. People have an almost erotic obsession with their firearms. Many will claim it’s for safety, when the hard facts show owning a gun makes you statistically less safe. I think it’s really about a false sense of power, when you feel powerless about everything else in life. And after every mass murder, gun sales go up, and masters of this bloody industry get richer…”

Video created by Christopher Stone and Dave Gibson

Buy the single here: https://revvnant.bandcamp.com/track/automatic
All proceeds will be donated to March For Our Lives (marchforourlives.com).

Lyrics:
“Words carry disease
Murder feeds families
God killed himself from shame

You’d better pray
That god is really dead

All hearts flirt with insanity
Tools of men worshipped so easily
Auto-erotic war machines
Breed violence, a quest for infamy

You’d better pray
That god is really dead

Where do we place the blame?
Evil, a flawed society?
Or masters of blood and industry?

You’d better pray
That god is really dead.”

Revvnant is Elias Schutzman (Vocals, Synthesizers, Programming), with Trevor Shipley on guitar.

Mixed by Mickey Freeland
Mastered by Alan Douches

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Revvnant on Bandcamp

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Clutch Re-Record “Spacegrass” for Weathermaker Vault Series

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

I’m of two minds on this one. Maybe three? First off, the new version of Clutch‘s ‘Spacegrass’ that they’ve recorded for their ongoing Weathermaker Vault Series — a CD comp whenever the series is done would be appreciated, guys — sounds great. Neil adds to the root melody and changes up the cadence, Tim adds swells of noise to the guitar that are awesome, and of course Dan and JP nail the groove as only they could. It’s a little faster, but they play it faster live, so I get it. So on the one hand, cool. On the other hand, isn’t this kind of sacred ground? Even more than when they redid “Electric Worry” last time out? And you’ll notice nobody’s calling this the “purest form” of “Spacegrass” like they were with that one. Because the purest form of “Spacegrass” is always going to be on the 1995 self-titled Clutch album. It’s a landmark — that record and this song on that record. Did it really need a revisit? They nailed it the first time.

On the third hand, who cares? They’re Clutch. They’ve proven time and again they can do whatever the hell they want and pull it off, and they basically do so again with “Spacegrass.” It’s a song about a car in space, not a statue of Buddha carved into a mountain. Maybe it’s not meant to be taken so ultra-seriously as all that. Let it be what it is.

I think that’s where I ultimately come down on it. Will the new “Spacegrass” replace the old? Nope. Is it trying to? Nope. Just Clutch doing a thing. So let them do the thing.

Here’s a rare Clutch press release without any included tour dates:

clutch spacegrass weathermaker vault

CLUTCH RELEASE BRAND NEW STUDIO RECORDING OF “SPACEGRASS” AS PART OF THE “WEATHERMAKER VAULT SERIES”

Clutch announce the release of the new studio recording of the track “Spacegrass.” The single is the fifth in a series of new studio recordings that comprise the Weathermaker Vault Series. “Spacegrass” was first released on Clutch’s self-titled album in 1995, and it stands as one of the key tracks in Clutch’s catalog of songs.

“The lyrics got their start originally from something Tim wrote, “ says Neil Fallon. “It involved a Dodge Swinger and Jesus. I added some words, and one of them was ‘AstroTurf,’ but that had one too many syllables. So I changed it to ‘Spacegrass’ – and the rest is history. “

Available on all digital outlets here: https://orcd.co/pjl43eo.

“Spacegrass” was mixed by 6X Grammy Award winner and Clutch collaborator, Vance Powell (Wolfmother, The Raconteurs, Arctic Monkeys).

CLUTCH:
Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

www.facebook.com/clutchband
www.instagram.com/clutchofficial
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Clutch, “Spacegrass” (2020)

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Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross: Ghosts of a New Dimension

Posted in Reviews on January 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Galactic Cross Galactic Cross

One can only hope that the Chamber of Commerce in Frederick, Maryland, someday is made to understand the cultural treasure the city has in hosting the epicenter of American doom on the Eastern Seaboard. In addition to, in recent years, playing host to the Maryland Doom Fest, Frederick has long been home to a scene of players and bands that has evolved over time into a creative force spanning decades, and from Pentagram to The Druids and Faith in Jane, the Chesapeake-regional underground crosses generations and styles as a true artistic inheritance should.

Galactic Cross make their full-length debut as a new project fronted by one of Frederick’s most pivotal figureheads in bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, whose vocal croon and croak will be quickly recognizable to anyone familiar with his work in Earthride, or Weed is Weed, though of course his pedigree goes back further to the likes of King Valley, Wretched, Shine/Spirit Caravan, and so on. Completed by drummer Tony Saunders, who played on Internal Void‘s demo in 1995 and Minds Eye before and after that, as well as Trilogy and presumably others, and ace-in-the-hole guitarist Brian Virts, Galactic Cross are a recent advent with obviously deeper roots, and there’s sense of connection that permeates their songwriting, whether it’s the grungey riffing of penultimate hooky rocker “Queen of the Damned” or the earlier punk-via-Motörhead burst of “Electric Ghost.”

Pressed through to vinyl Energy Ring Records with lush artwork by Norb Czufis and Martin Kenny, the eight-song/32-minute long-player carries a brisk sonic clarity — brought to bear by Kenny Eaton at Monrovia, MD’s Mystery Ton Studios with mixing by Brad Divens (Fixintogetmixin Studio) and mastering by Carlos Silva (C1 Mastering) — and finds the three-piece fluidly shifting between tempos and weaving in elements of classic Maryland-style doom amid the more heavy rock-minded impulses, beginning almost in medias res with a quick drum introduction and quickly locked-in groove on opener and longest track (immediate points) “Spellbound.”

The leadoff features a highlight melodic vocal from Sherman as well as some C.O.C.-style sweeping backup vocals, but it’s also the first of several standout performances from Virts, who plays guitar with the technical precision of someone who’s genuinely spent years studying the craft — about three seconds of research reveals he’s the owner of the Moon Star Guitars shop — and who brings soul and suitable purpose to solos and riffs alike. On the subsequent “Lonely Unicorn,” Saunders casually tosses out impressive fills in one-after-another fashion between measures as the central rhythm is established in a start-stop roll that the subsequent guitar-led instrumental “Nominal Confusion” seems only too happy to perpetuate. “Spellbound” had a bit more blues to its proceedings, with fuzz on the bass and the vocal effects, but the subtly shifting tempo en route to “Electric Ghost” is something listeners might miss at first but that becomes essential to the overarching flow of Galactic Cross as a whole.

As its arrangements are largely straightforward, relying more on basic songcraft than the pedal board or other studio chicanery to make a point that one imagines sounds no less vital coming from the stage, things like those changes in tempo become essential the band’s ability to create a sense of variety in their approach, which they succeed in doing. The malleability of Sherman‘s voice between the catchy “Lonely Unicorn” and a cut like “Electric Ghost” — also the shortest on the album at 2:28 — is not to be understated in its importance in this either.

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That side A closer is a rager and he meets the task of keeping up with Saunders‘ gallop, the sudden finish of the song only appropriate in sealing the deal of what the first half of the album was pushing toward. Another turn arrives in the intertwined acoustic and electric guitar of “Inter-Dimensional,” which lands in a swampy kind of psychedelia with what sounds like jaw harp in the background reminiscent of nighttime frog calls. It’s instrumental, so basically an interlude or side B intro, depending on the format through which one is listening, but still longer than “Electric Ghost” and it allows Galactic Cross to work in more spacious elements they may build upon going forward. If their next album had a “Planet Caravan” of its own, it would be well earned.

“Hollywood Truther” is a high point as Sherman calls “guitar!” at around two minutes in and Virts answers with another impressive stretch of soloing atop the steady roll of Saunders‘ drumming. The prevailing vibe is a return to the modus of “Spellbound” if perhaps a bit more tinged with classic doom in its main riff — something that the closing title- and eponymous “Galactic Cross” will push further — but between those two, “Queen of the Damned” touches on a straight-ahead rush of heavy rock that’s a well-placed and catchy energy kick.

One could make arguments for “Galactic Cross,” which is the only piece aside from the opener to run longer than five minutes, as being the best vocal performance Sherman has recorded to-date. He finds his place easily atop the slower progression and complements and is complemented by his bass and Virts‘ guitar, singing clean without necessarily losing the throaty edge that has heretofore defined him. He has made himself a singer as well as a frontman of marked charisma and personality. The chemistry shared among him, Virts and Saunders is writ large throughout Galactic Cross, even as a debut release, and neither should details like side A of the vinyl ending ultra-fast with “Electric Ghost” and side B ultra-slow with “Galactic Cross” pass unnoticed, as they speak to a consciousness of how the material is being presented to the listener that goes beyond the individual tracks themselves.

Maybe these guys are friends who’ve known each other for however long and finally decided to get a band going, I don’t know, and likewise, I don’t know their intentions from here on, but Galactic Cross portrays a sound worth continuing to expand and chase and develop as well as songs that, in the immediate, engage some of the signature components of Maryland heavy while setting out on their own path of heavy rock and hooks. Right on. Somebody please alert the local officials.

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