Friday Full-Length: Monster Magnet, Milking the Stars: A Re-Imagining of Last Patrol

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

 

monster magnet milking the stars

Well that was some week. I’m not gonna do the usual review-in-hindsight/then-blather thing today, but the basics about the above real quick: New Jersey’s true rock and roll treasure, Monster Magnet, released Milking the Stars: A Re-Imagining of Last Patrol (review here) through Napalm Records in 2014 as a follow-up companion-piece to 2013’s Last Patrol (review here), taking tracks from that record and reworking them in various ways. A Hammond here, a long winding space jam there. It’s one of two such releases the band did, the other being 2015’s Cobras and Fire: The Mastermind Redux (review here), which did took on 2010’s Mastermind (review here). To be honest, if we’re going on a level of basic preference, what I might reach for any given day, I’ll take Cobras and Fire over Milking the Stars, the former bolstered by the cover of “Ball of Confusion” and “Watch Me Fade,” and so on. But “The Duke (Full on Drums ‘n’ Wah)” and “I Live Behind the Clouds (Roughed Up and Slightly Spaced)” from the 2014 outing were kicking around my head, so I rolled with the impulse. Turns out it was “No Paradise for Me” my brain was seeking.

What I admire about Milking the Stars and Cobras and Fire both, though, is the willingness to fuck with what’s been done before. The extension of irreverence to one’s own work, even as it maintains reference for aesthetic itself. The flexibility to look at a batch of songs already ostensibly finished, recorded, pressed, released, and to say, “Well, maybe I can screw around with those some more.” The playful fuckall of it.

Monster Magnet have a cool announcement on the way I think later this month. If you’ve seen some of the band Poobah‘s social media posts, you already know Dave Wyndorf and company recorded a cover of one of their songs. They were also the first band I would’ve seen whose show got canceled when the Tri-State Area (NY, NJ, CT) went into lockdown. March 18, 2020. Brooklyn. Monster Magnet celebrating Powertrip with support from Nebula. Almost a year now. Somewhere in the great expanse of multiple universes, there’s one where that show happened and I went and had a real good time.

In this universe, my kid fractured his skull this week. We were going down to the basement to change over the laundry. I walk in front of him so that if he falls, he falls on me — he’s three and very active; he falls constantly and 99 percent of the time gets right back up and ignores it — so my back was turned, but I heard the crash. He must’ve slipped on the stair and falling in the space between the railing and the stairs themselves, from about five or six steps high, onto the concrete basement floor, through a pane of glass that just happened to be leaning on the staircase the way things end up leaning on other things in basements. When I heard the crash, I turned and saw him flat on his back surrounded by broken glass. He looked immediately in shock. Me too, probably.

I yelled “Jesus!” in that way that I do when something is actually wrong and my wife heard. No cuts on the kid, which is more fortunate than I can say. I’m extra paranoid with him and glass — unresolved trauma on my part; when I was seven-ish, I sliced open the inside of my right thigh by sitting on a large glass fishbowl and received no less than some 300-odd stitches for my trouble, more inside than out. My father saved my life that night. I did eventually get to thank him for that before he died.

I didn’t have to apply pressure to any gaping wound in the back of our son’s head the way my father did to the open folds of flesh in my thigh while we waited for the ambulance to come. There was no ambulance. We stripped the kid to get his glassy clothes off, then went upstairs to assess. When he started to nod off — something he’d never do in a million years under normal circumstances; he fights sleep like Batman fights the Joker — we took him to Morristown Memorial Hospital, to the pediatric ER. They admitted him so he could get a CAT scan.

It’s a short process in text, but it all took hours. This was Tuesday after dinner, near bedtime. He fell at 5:45. We went to the hospital at 6:15 or thereabouts. It was 10PM before the three of us went upstairs. Only one parent could stay overnight because of COVID restrictions, so I stayed and sent my wife home. They’d done the CAT scan by then, showed us the crack in his skull, said there didn’t seem to be a bleed, but they were admitting him to keep watch and to do an MRI in the morning to be sure. We were terrified. Asking about brain damage to your three year old. Sit with that and wait overnight for who knows what answer.

Blah blah MRI. I went down with him to imaging. They put him under general anesthesia. I was holding him, caught him when he conked out. I ran home to shower while The Patient Mrs. stayed in case he woke up in the next hour and a half or so. I got back before he was up, then we went back up to his room for more waiting. Results came in: no significant bleed, we could go home once he could hold food down.

We gave him a couple fruit pouches that he likes and he puked it all back up. Effect either of the concussion or the general. Doesn’t matter which. That bought us more hours at the hospital. In the meantime, shift change brought in Dr. Escobar — and yes, that’s the real name because fuck it — who was the nighttime attending and who told us that we couldn’t leave. When we pushed back on that saying the MRI was fine, she told us a “final read” vs. the “preliminary read” of the MRI showed a more significant bleed happening.

This turned out to be a lie. Just a lie. Simply not true. Dr. Escobar said that she talked to the pediatric neuroradiologist and the pediatric neurosurgeon and they said we needed to stay because there was a chance he might throw a clot and stroke out.

Again, just not true.

At the time, we were furious because we’d then been misinformed that he was out of such danger. I asked what the hell “preliminary” and “final” meant and why would we have been informed if someone hadn’t all-the-way examined the test results. I did curse. Dr. Escobar excused herself and did not come back. The nurse was duly apologetic and understanding. The pediatric neurosurgeon would be in in the morning to check on The Pecan and make sure everything was okay. He needed more neurological check-ins — which he already hadn’t had since the morning — overnight.

If the doctor had said, “Looking at the imaging, we think your son should stay. Better safe than sorry,” we would’ve stayed of course. That’s not what was said.

The pediatric neurosurgeon in the morning told us she was surprised to find we were still there. Others coming back on for the dayshift were too, until we told them what had happened with Dr. Escobar. A few more people came and went, The Pecan threw up again, so that was a delay, and we went home sometime later in the morning yesterday. Follow-up next Friday, back to school on Tuesday probably. He and The Patient Mrs. took a long nap in the afternoon and he kept dinner — which was ice cream cake — in his stomach before bed. He was up later than he should’ve been, but I expect that’s a combination of had-a-nap and the back of his head being sore.

Take your left hand and put the pinky line — the flat part of your hand, not your palm — about halfway between the middle and the side of the back of your head, and that’s where the crack in his skull is and about the proportion of it as well. It was a significant fall. His grandmother came down from Connecticut to help us out, got him a nightlight, more Daniel Tiger books — all of which we read in the hospital bed — and other such and sundry. My mother and sister got him balloons and a bear. Child Life Services — the woman’s name was Meaghan; she was incredible — gave him a new garbage truck and a truck from the movie Cars with the racecars in it. He’s never seen the movie, but likes the racecars with faces and knows Lightning McQueen by name. He got to ride in a red cart on the way out of the hospital as well, and was stoked on that.

He’s less tired and headachy this morning than he was last night, but still whiny and hair-trigger. I’m sitting with him now. He’s in the tub taking a bath and lost his shit when we were out of bubbles to the point that The Patient Mrs. ran down the road to the grocery store and got some. She’s playing with bath foam now, making letters on the wall for him to do the alphabet. He’s started to spell words — “stop,” “go,” “on,” “zoo,” “yes,” “no,” as well as his name — and knows the alphabet by heart. He can sight-read various words as well — “love,” “cat,” “go,” “yes,” “no,” etc. We’re getting there.

We’ll move forward. I’m still angry at being lied to and have set about composing the email in my head to send to the hospital administrator. Nothing to sue over, obviously, but if I was in charge of a group of medical professionals, I would want to know that one of them decided to be House M.D. to the parents of a toddler patient. Shit ain’t ethical.

That’s where I’ve been at today is an eight-post day to catch up. Back to whatever is normal on Monday.

And if you reached out on any form of social media in response to one of my posts on there about this situation, please know you have my deepest thanks and appreciation. It was incredibly humbling and touching to hear from so many people around the globe wishing well and being happy for us when we got to go home. Sharing that adventure, which is the word we’ve been using, helped keep me grounded to the extent I was through the whole thing. And thanks to my family as well for their constant support.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Stay hydrated. Watch your head. All the best.

FRM.

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audiObelisk Transmission 043

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

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Since I don’t do theme podcasts or anything, the thoroughly unofficial subtitle of this latest one is “SOME of the Best of 2014.” Truth be told, it’s four hours long and I feel like I barely scratched the surface, so definitely the emphasis should be on “some.” By no means is it meant to be comprehensive, or am I claiming that it’s all the best and the rest sucked or anything like that. But some of the best stuff is here, so, you know, I hope you enjoy.

My intent was to make it three hours long, and then I got there and it just didn’t feel done without another hour’s worth of extended psych jams. That’s an odd habit to have. Could be worse. For what it’s worth, I was thinking of this as a companion for some of the year-end coverage that’s already been posted and is still to come. Some of this was inspired by picks from the Readers Poll, the submissions for which are still open. If you haven’t added your list yet, I’d greatly appreciate it.

And once again, hope you dig it:

First Hour:
YOB, “Nothing to Win” from Clearing the Path to Ascend
Fu Manchu, “Radio Source Sagittarius” from Gigantoid
Radio Moscow, “Death of a Queen” from Magical Dirt
The Golden Grass, “Stuck on a Mountain” from The Golden Grass
Monster Magnet, “No Paradise for Me” from Milking the Stars: A Reimagining of Last Patrol
Pallbearer, “The Ghost I Used to Be” from Foundations of Burden
The Skull, “Sick of it All” from For Those Which are Asleep
Electric Wizard, “Time to Die” from Time to Die
Orange Goblin, “The Devil’s Whip” from Back from the Abyss
Moab, “No Soul” from Billow

Second Hour:
Sleep, “The Clarity” from The Clarity 12”
Mars Red Sky, “Hovering Satellites” from Stranded in Arcadia
Floor, “Rocinante” from Oblation
Slomatics, “And Yet it Moves” from Estron
Conan, “Foehammer” from Blood Eagle
Druglord, “Feast on the Eye” from Enter Venus
Apostle of Solitude, “Die Vicar Die” from Of Woe and Wounds
Pilgrim, “Away from Here” from II: Void Worship
Blood Farmers, “The Road Leads to Nowhere” from Headless Eyes

Third Hour:
Lo-Pan, “Regulus” from Colossus
Elephant Tree, “Vlaakith” from Theia
The Well, “Mortal Bones” from Samsara
Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds, “Counting Time” from The Shining One
Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, “Stokely up Now” from Black Power Flower
Joy, “Driving Me Insane” from Under the Spell of Joy
Greenleaf, “Depth of the Sun” from Trails and Passes
Mothership, “Priestess of the Moon” from Mothership II
Truckfighters, “Get Lifted” from Universe
Mos Generator, “Enter the Fire” from Electric Mountain Majesty
Mammatus, “Brain Drain” from Heady Mental

Fourth Hour:
Øresund Space Collective, “Beardlandia” from Music for Pogonologists
My Brother the Wind, “Garden of Delights” from Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One
The Cosmic Dead, “Fukahyoocastulah” from Split with Mugstar
Montibus Communitas, “The Pilgrim to the Absolute” from The Pilgrim to the Absolute

Total running time: 4:02:57

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 043

 

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Monster Magnet, Milking the Stars: Second Launch

Posted in Reviews on November 4th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

monster-magnet-milking-the-stars

For Monster Magnet fans, there are two things to like about Milking the Stars: The concept and the execution. The long-running New Jersey outfit seemed to be making a turn to come full-circle on 2013’s Last Patrol (review here), bringing in a more psychedelic feel for the first time in over a decade, not quite trying to recapture their brilliance in early albums like 1991’s Spine of God, 1993’s Superjudge and 1995’s Dopes to Infinity, but definitely making a departure from the hard rock sound they’d developed since then on 1998’s landmark Powertrip, 2001’s God Says No, , 2004’s Monolithic Baby!, 2007’s 4-Way Diablo, and 2010’s Mastermind (review here), their sound becoming more straightforward and — though the 2010 outing was probably the “biggest” they’ve ever come across on tape — increasingly formulaic. Last Patrol boldly turned that progression on its head, daring to brood on songs like “Paradise” and “I Live behind the Clouds” and jamming out righteous wah-soaked space rock on “Last Patrol” and the driving “End of Time.” Particularly for those who’d been longing for such a step from the band, it was the best Monster Magnet outing in 15 years’ time and one of the highlight releases of 2013. With Milking the Stars (out on Napalm Records), the full title of which is Milking the Stars: A Reimagining of Last Patrol, frontman, founder and principal songwriter Dave Wyndorf pushes himself further into satisfying a weirdo trippy impulse, reworking cuts and including material not included on the original Last Patrol to get something new from them and create a record that, even if you didn’t hear the first one, stands on its own, its John Sumrow cover art dogwhistling its companion status to the album before it.

The reason I say the concept should be pleasing to Monster Magnet fans is because what it shows is that Wyndorf — joined at this point in Monster Magnet by guitarists Phil Caivano and Garrett Sweeney, bassist Chris Kosnik (who makes his recorded debut with the band on a couple live bonus tracks), and drummer Bob Pantella — is not only in a place feeling creative enough to take on the material of Last Patrol and give it a thorough screwing with, which is something that’s never been done before in Monster Magnet‘s 25-year history, but also that he’s making it weirder. Some of Milking the Stars‘ cuts, like “End of Time (B-3)” and “I Live behind the Clouds (Roughed up and Slightly Spaced)” don’t depart as much from their original incarnations — though neither will I downplay how much of a game-changer that Hammond is on “End of Time” — but in “No Paradise for Me” Wyndorf takes the moody original to a more open-sounding place and changes the lyrics to more directly address his disappointment with pop modernity: “I guess I’ll have to make up what I want to see.” And so he does. That’s basically what this album is, but that only makes it a more honest work. Opener “Let the Circus Burn” (also the longest cut at 7:26; immediate points) tweaks, slows down and spaces out the original “Last Patrol,” and “Mindless Ones ’68” pulls back on the heavy rocking original for a more garage-rock interpretation, bright lead guitar forward in the mix, tambourine and organ taking the place of snare stomp and a wailing solo. The title-track, “Milking the Stars” was left off Last Patrol and it’s easy enough to speculate why. At 7:26, it would’ve pushed that album to nearly an hour long, and while it has an effective linear build and might’ve bridged a gap between “End of Time” and “Last Patrol” and some of that record’s shorter, more verse/chorus-minded cuts, it makes a better focus cut than secondary player, even if its title can give the idea that the band are simply “milking” their last album for more material — a notion that no doubt occurred to them in picking the title and was taken on with tongue in cheek.

monster-magnet

And as for the execution, while I’m not prepared to say Milking the Stars is a better or worse album than Last Patrol — the two are best considered in league with each other — several of the songs are markedly improved here from their originals. “Hallelujah (Fuzz and Swamp)” even more calls Larman Clamor to mind in its blown-out revivalism, “Stay Tuned (Even Sadder)” lives righteously up to its parenthetical, and the drum track and extra guitar that appear in closer “The Duke (Full on Drums ‘n’ Wah)” give that song a personality beyond what one could’ve expected from the first incarnation. Not only are these particular cuts well conceived, but the reality of the listen proves just as satisfying as the idea, and Milking the Stars works as a whole front-to-back listen, rather than a collection of one-off reinterpretations, like a remix record or something. It’s not that. “Reimagining” sounds ambitious, but it’s as close to the fact of what’s taking place here as anything I can come up with, and works all the better perhaps in conveying the adventurous spirit behind the motivation in making the album in the first place. Last Patrol was a brazen step, but Milking the Stars makes it seem like just the beginning of a new phase in Monster Magnet‘s ongoing evolution. As someone who’s a fan of the band, and a fan of Last Patrol, it’s all the more exciting to think that Wyndorf and company might approach songwriting with such an anything-can-happen creative sensibility a quarter-century on from the group’s start. It makes the prospects for where they might go next all the more vast, considering if they can take on Last Patrol and remold it into Milking the Stars, there’s really no telling where they might go from here. All the better. What seemed like it might’ve been Monster Magnet‘s final round looks instead to have become the catalyst for a new phase in their career, and my only hope is they keep getting weirder from here on out.

Monster Magnet, “No Paradise for Me”

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Monster Magnet to Release Milking the Stars: A Reimagining of Last Patrol on Nov. 18

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 10th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet

There really isn’t a word for what Milking the Stars is in relation to Last Patrol. “Reimagining,” which is what they went with in the title, comes about as close as anything I can think of, but really what Monster Magnet are doing here goes beyond simple reinterpretation. It’s not like they’re just playing fast songs slow or heavy songs acoustic or vice versa, they’re tripping way the fuck out and giving a glimpse at just how liberated these cats are after making their “return” to heavy psychedelia. So the version of “The Duke (of Supernature)” on Last Patrol (review here) was kind of sweet and subdued? Well here’s Bob Pantella‘s snare drum to punch you in the face. “Mindless Ones” was a hard rock rager? Well here it is as echoed-out psych pop. Oh, let’s absolutely drench “End of Time” in Hammond! It’s like listening to Dave Wyndorf‘s studio impulsiveness come to life.

The pivotal New Jersey five-piece will release Milking the Stars: A Reimagining of Last Patrol on Nov. 18 through Napalm Records, complete with a new cover (you’ll notice the cosmic Bullgod is facing the opposite direction as on Last Patrol as he destroys whichever planet that was, probably ours) by John Sumrow. The title-track is also brand new, put to tape during the Last Patrol sessions, and other parts have been re-recorded as needed. Also worth noting that the two live bonus tracks are the recorded debut of bassist Chris Kosnik (The Atomic Bitchwax) in the band.

PR wire facts, comment from Wyndorf and audio of “No Paradise for Me” — a reworking of Last Patrol‘s “Paradise” — follow:

MONSTER MAGNET to Release Milking the Stars: A Reimagining of Last Patrol – Artwork, Track Listing and First Song Revealed

Available November 18th on Napalm Records

2013 saw the release of MONSTER MAGNET’s latest album Last Patrol. Now comes Milking the Stars a reimagining of Last Patrol. Met with critical acclaim and supported by a world tour, Last Patrol has become a staple in the MONSTER MAGNET discography.

Today the artwork, track listing and first song from Milking the Stars have been released. Wyndorf’s pick for the first song he wanted fans to be exposed to is “No Paradise For Me”. The song according to Wyndorf is ‘interesting, fucked up and old school sounding’. Listen to “No Paradise For Me” HERE.

Wyndorf on Milking the Stars:

“Milking the Stars is a “re-imagined” version of Last Patrol featuring four new songs and live tracks.

“This was a happy experiment for me. It’s not a re-mix record by the current definition. It’s more like Last Patrol in a “what if?” style alternate reality.

“What if these songs were recorded in 1968?” “What would happen if I turned a pretty song into an angry one?” How would adding creepy organs and Mellotrons affect the emotional vibe of a song?” These are just a few of the questions that roll around in my head when I write and record any album but this time I decided to actually answer them with fully fleshed out, recorded and mixed examples.

“The process actually created new songs. That’s the icing on the cake for me. New sounds, new vocals, different instruments and arrangements make for a weird 1960’s vibe totally apart from Last Patrol which was fun for Phil, Bob, Garrett, mixer Joe Barresi and myself to explore.

“Finally there’s expanded versions of the songs “Last Patrol” and “Three Kingfishers” as recorded live at the AB club in Belgium, 2014. Both those songs were re-arranged for “maximum rock and psych” before we hit the road last year and feature the debut performance of new MAGNET bassist, Chris Kosnik. Personally, I think they beat the original versions.

Rock on!”

Milking the Stars Track Listing:
1. Let the Circus Burn
2. Mindless Ones ‘68
3. No Paradise For Me
4. End of Time (B-3)
5. Milking the Stars
6. Hellelujah (Fuzz And Swamp)
7. I Live Behind The Clouds (Roughed Up And Slightly Spaced)
8. Goliath Returns
9. Stay Tuned (Even Sadder)
10. The Duke (Full On Drums ‘N Wah)
11. Last Patrol (Live)
12. Three Kingfishers (Live)

For More Info Visit:
http://www.zodiaclung.com
https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet
http://www.napalmrecords.com

Monster Magnet, “No Paradise for Me”

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