Album Review: Monster Magnet, A Better Dystopia

Posted in Reviews on May 31st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet a better dystopia

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Before we get any further, the tracklisting:

1. The Diamond Mine (Dave Diamond)
2. Born to Go (Hawkwind)
3. Epitaph for a Head (JD Blackfoot)
4. Solid Gold Hell (The Scientists)
5. Be Forewarned (Macabre)
6. Mr. Destroyer (Poobah)
7. When the Wolf Sits (Jerusalem)
8. Death (The Pretty Things)
9. Situation (Josefus)
10. It’s Trash (The Cave Men)
11. Motorcycle (Straight to Hell) (Table Scraps)
12. Learning to Die (Dust)
13. Welcome to the Void – Bonus Track (Morgen)

Those who’ve done their own explorations of the 1968-’74 underground will know names like¬† Dissertation-help.co.uk: Here Is How You Get It. If youíre working hard on your dissertation but donít seem to be getting any closer to finishing the project, you may need some help. In fact, getting cheap dissertation assistance has probably already crossed your mind. We have some very good news for you: you really can get cheap dissertations Dust,¬† Poobah,¬†The Pretty Things,¬†Macabre,¬†J.D. Blackfoot maybe even Jerusalem and¬†Josefus thanks to reissues. Of course¬†Hawkwind, from whose melted skulls space rock burst, were no less an influence on¬†Monster Magnet‘s early freakouts than¬†Black Sabbath. But¬†Table Sraps, the spoken piece written by Dave Diamond and the Higher Elevation¬†that leads off, and the near-punk of¬†The Cave Men‘s “It’s Trash” — the original is an echoing, teenaged testosterone gnashing of teeth released as a 45RPM in 1966 — plunge deeper into record-collector obscurity, and that’s part of the point. Inevitable as it might be,¬†and as much as it’s a fan-piece for sure and a plague-era holdover until¬†Wyndorf and company can tour again and all that other stuff, it’s also a crash course in what’s made¬†Monster Magnet who they are.

As they would, tracks range in style, tempo and structure, but the intent at the outset is to build momentum. “The Diamond Mine” sets an almost manic tone in Wyndorf‘s delivery, and “Born to Go” from¬†Hawkwind‘s 1971 classic¬†In Search of Space follows suit in its unmitigated thrust, which J.D. Blackfoot‘s “Epitaph for a Head” meets with two minutes of shred-forward jabbing that¬†Wyndorf uses as a backdrop for a horror show in gleefully odd fashion. The current lineup of the band is¬†Wyndorf, guitarists¬†Phil Caivano and¬†Garrett Sweeny (the latter also now in¬†The Atomic Bitchwax), bassist¬†Alec Morton (Raging Slab) and drummer Bob Pantella (also of¬†Bitchwax and Raging Slab fame), but who’s playing what on a given song on an album is a crapshoot at the best of times, never mind in the middle of a pandemic lockdown, which is when¬†A Better Dystopia would’ve come together. Still, the turn toward straight-ahead riffer fare in¬†The Scientists‘ “Solid Gold Hell” provides a sense of repetition that serves to fluidly lead into¬†Macabre/later-Pentagram‘s “Be Forewarned” and Poobah‘s “Mr. Destroyer,” both high points of the outing in terms of hooks and the latter settling into a righteous jam along the way. Behold¬†Monster Magnet, digging in. Right on.

monster magnet (Gonzales Photo/Per-Otto Oppi/Alamy Live News)

So is it time to get weird? Yeah, probably. “When the Wolf Sits” rules like the lost-classic it is, and is handled with care as one would hope, and as the band plunge into side B with C still to come — the 2LP edition of¬†A Better Dystopia has an etching on side D — it’s with the sitar-esque sounds of¬†The Pretty Things‘ “Death” from 1968’s bizarro-prog concept opus¬†S.F. Sorrow that the band most reinforce their ability to range where they will. The trilogy that follows in “Situation,” “It’s Trash” and “Motorcycle (Straight to Hell)” is fast — three songs in under eight minutes — but brings three likewise differing vibes, with the scorched lead guitar clarion that culminates “Situation” leading to the push and swagger of “It’s Trash” and “Motorcycle (Straight to Hell)” a dive into willful simplicity made more complex through call and response echoes and some later-in-the-party lysergic malevolence.

A more fitting lead-in for¬†Dust‘s “Learning to Die” would be difficult to find. Performance-wise, the pre-bonus-track closer of¬†A Better Dystopia is an easy favorite, with¬†Wyndorf nailing the emotional urgency of the original while of course doing so as the song is brought into¬†Monster Magnet‘s sonic context. A maddening tension of rhythm ensues. “Learning to Die” is the longest inclusion at 6:28 and the inarguable apex, but with Morgen‘s “Welcome to the Void” behind it, there’s one last bit of psycho-delic, Echoplex’ed chicanery to be had, and that’s just fine. Think of it as a victory lap more than a song that just didn’t fit anywhere else on the album. It’s more fun that way.

And fun is a not-insignificant portion of the motivation here, it seems. There’s an edge of educate-the-people too, make no mistake, but if Monster Magnet found certainty in uncertain times by regressing in their listening habits to early inspirations — pops and hisses of worn vinyl as security blanket — they’d hardly be the only ones. If the last decade of the band’s career has proved anything, it’s that their reach goes wherever they want it to go. Their most recent LP,¬†Mindfucker (review here), arrived early in 2018 with a turn away from some of the spacier aspects that typified the two prior redux outings, 2014‚Äôs¬†Milking the Stars¬†(review here; discussed here), which reworked and freaked-up 2013’s Last Patrol¬†(review here), and 2015‚Äôs¬†Cobras and Fire: The Mastermind Redux¬†(review here), which had a similar if more arduous task in doing the same for 2010‚Äôs Mastermind¬†(review here). But even for its less-psychedelic pulse, it remained petulant, energetic, archetypal.¬†With¬†A Better Dystopia, the view of where that defining attitude came from is made that much clearer.

Monster Magnet, “Learning to Die” (Dust cover) lyric video

Monster Magnet, “Motorcycle (Straight to Hell)” (Table Scraps cover) lyric video

Monster Magnet, “Mr. Destroyer” (Poobah cover) lyric video

Monster Magnet website

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Monster Magnet on Twitter

Monster Magnet on Instagram

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Monster Magnet Post “Learning to Die” Lyric Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet learning to die

Monster Magnet will unveil their covers collection, A Better Dystopia, on May 21 through Napalm Records, and following on from posting their take on Poobah‘s “Mr. Destroyer” with the initial announcement of the record last month, Dave Wyndorf and company have a new lyric video up for¬†the band’s version of the heavy ’70s mixtape staple “Learning to Die,” by¬†Dust. Trivia-types might recall that¬†Dust featured drummer¬†Marc Bell, who grew up to be¬†Marky Ramone, but the group’s two records, 1971’s¬†Dust (discussed here) and 1972’s Hard Attack — which were issued together by¬†Sony¬†in 2013 (feature here) — are stone cold genre classics and should be treated as nothing less. As manic as “Learning to Die” is — and no less so in¬†Monster Magnet‘s hands, certainly — there’s significant weight to it as well in theme and style.

I don’t think there’s time between now and the release, but honestly, if¬†Monster Magnet or the team at¬†Napalm wanted to just keep going and do a lyric video for every song on¬†A Better Dystopia in the madcap look and iconography wash that is the album’s cover art, I wouldn’t argue. Put it all out later as a visual album livestream or something. Or, you know, not. This is why I’m not in marketing.

Anyway, killer song. Gonna go put on Hard Attack and groove out.

Enjoy the clip

Monster Magnet, “Learning to Die” (Dust cover) lyric video

Stoner Rock Shamans Monster Magnet Offer Their Take on Dust‚Äôs ‚ÄúLearning To Die‚ÄĚ!

Pre-Order “A Better Dystopia” here: https://smarturl.it/ABetterDystopia?

Of the song selection, frontman Dave Wyndorf says: ‚Äú‚ÄėLearning To Die‚Äô blew me away when I was 15 and it still blows me away. Man, do I LOVE to sing this song. Dust was one of the greats.”

Napalm Records is pleased to present the next chapter in psychedelic rock icons MONSTER MAGNET’s rabbit hole deep dive, A Better Dystopia (out May 21, 2021): a delightfully (and psychotically) curated collection of 60’s and 70’s proto-metal and late-era psych obscurities covered by the heavy New Jersey legends themselves.

While the album marks a new frontier for MONSTER MAGNET as their first covers record, this is not your typical set of standards released to pass time. A Better Dystopia sees the band pay homage to some of their favorite songs of all time, while reflecting on the paranoia, dystopia and revolution of both now ‚Äď and then.

MONSTER MAGNET is:
Dave Wyndorf – Vocals, Guitar
Phil Caivano – Guitar
Garret Sweeny – Guitar
Alec Morton – Bass
Bob Pantella – Drums

Monster Magnet, “Mr. Destroyer” (Poobah cover) lyric video

Monster Magnet website

Monster Magnet on Thee Facebooks

Monster Magnet on Twitter

Monster Magnet on Instagram

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Monster Magnet Announce A Better Dystopia Covers LP out May 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 23rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

This announcement has been a while in the making and if you happen to follow Poobah on Facebook you already knew some of the info. Confirmation, however, is certainly welcome. And so it is that Napalm Records brings official word of A Better Dystopia, a new covers record from Monster Magnet.

You’ll note in the below info that joining founder/weirdo legend¬†Dave Wyndorf in the group are regulars¬†Phil Caivano and¬†Garrett Sweeney on guitar as well as longtime drummer Bob Pantella and new bassist¬†Alec Morton. The latter is a veteran of¬†Raging Slab (so is¬†Pantella) and takes the spot previously held by¬†Chris Kosnik of¬†The Atomic Bitchwax (which, again, features¬†Pantella). The lesson?¬†Bob Pantella knows a few good bassists.

Also I guess the lesson is¬†Wyndorf knows his classic heavy, as picks from¬†Jerusalem,¬†Poobah,¬†Macabre (what’s the matter, no¬†Stonebunny?), the recently-active Josefus and the inevitable Hawkwind demonstrate. But if you needed to learn that, all you’d really have to do is listen to the band at any point ever to find out.

You can hear¬†Monster Magnet‘s take on¬†Poobahs “Mr. Destroyer” at the bottom of the post and preorders are up for¬†A Better Dystopia through¬†Napalm¬†as of today. More info follows here:

monster magnet a better dystopia

Psych Rock Icons MONSTER MAGNET to Release Delightfully Psychotic Covers Album A Better Dystopia

Out May 21, 2021 via Napalm Records

Pre-Order HERE: https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/monstermagnet

When psychedelic rock icons MONSTER MAGNET got off the plane in the USA after their Powertrip tour of Europe in February 2020, they already realized that they’d dodged a bullet. The band members were all healthy, despite having spent the last week of the month-long excursion gigging overseas, and at that point, many of those countries were in total lockdown. Part two of that tour, North America, was scheduled to begin three weeks later, but the rest is history… no live music, anywhere. So, what’s a band that’s been touring regularly for 30 years to do with this newfound downtime?

Frontman Dave Wyndorf tells the inspired tale below, but without further ado ‚Äď Napalm Records is pleased to present the next chapter of MONSTER MAGNET’s rabbit hole deep dive, A Better Dystopia (out May 21, 2021): a delightfully (and psychotically) curated collection of 60’s and 70’s proto-metal and late-era psych obscurities covered by the heavy New Jersey legends themselves.

While the album marks a new frontier for MONSTER MAGNET as their first covers record, this is not your typical set of standards released to pass time. A Better Dystopia sees the band pay homage to some of their favorite songs of all time, while reflecting on the paranoia, dystopia and revolution of both now ‚Äď and then.

Fans can experience a first taste of A Better Dystopia via the swaggering riffs and swirling vocals on album’s first single, “Mr. Destroyer” (originally by Poo-Bah), today via a new video.

Dave Wyndorf says about the birth of A Better Dystopia:
“We all agreed that we would be bored out of our minds within a month of lockdown. MONSTER MAGNET loves the road. It’s a lifestyle. So, I considered our options. Rather than panhandle on the internet, hawking masks and Zoom-rocking practice sessions for dollars, I suggested we record a “bunker record”. A total DIY affair (band only) recorded and mixed in Bob Pantella’s small but potent Freak Shop Studios/rehearsal space right here in New Jersey. But what to record?

I didn’t feel much like writing, but working on anything was better than watching the news as hospitals filled up, people died, and American politics went bat-shit crazy. The world roared “Dystopia! Apocalypse! Revolution!”. I’d heard those words before, and they brought to mind my childhood in the late 60’s/early 70’s… and the music… and short playlist of songs (just one of many) that I’d been carrying around with me on my whatever device to listen to before shows. Of course, these tunes have also been in my head for more or less my whole life. These were not the popular hits of the time. This was like a playlist from the 4th dimension… strange bits of musical obscurity, mostly dredged up from that inglorious and freaky “twilight zone” time that preceded Arena Rock, Heavy Metal, Reggae and Disco. A no-man’s land of hard rock that still had remnants of psychedelia and garage punk but had abandoned any notion of “flower power” or frat house fun. And of course, they rocked.

Yeah, these songs were it.”

Wyndorf is at the top of his game on A Better Dystopia, delivering each lyric in his own inimitable style, and musicians Phil Caivano, Bob Pantella, Garrett Sweeney and Alec Morton own the sound ‚Äď vintage and old school, dense and heavy, with searing fuzz leads and pounding bass and drums all played in a deft style that’s almost been lost in modern music. The album opens with “The Diamond Mine”, as Dave Wyndorf recites a classic monologue by Dave Diamond, an American radio DJ whose programs in the late 60’s and early 70’s helped popularize many psychedelic and acid rock bands. At this point the real trip begins, as the opening chords of the Hawkwind classic “Born To Go” gear up for launch. Tracks like standout “Mr. Destroyer” (Poo-Bah) spur visions of some untold Freak revolution ‚Äď or perhaps dinosaurs battling on a burning planet at the end of time ‚Äď creating a perfect blend of hard rock and psychedelia. Feverish “Motorcycle (Straight To Hell)” (Table Scraps) is pure punk fury of the old school tradition, evoking a cross between Iggy Pop and Mot√∂rhead as Wyndorf wails “I’m gonna drive it straight to HELL!” Falling even further down the mind-bending rabbit hole, Magnet offers their stunning, whirlwind take on the often-overlooked hard rock classic “Learning To Die” (Dust) and a masterful version the Stooges meets Goth epic, “Solid Gold Hell” (The Scientists). The album closes with a bonus nuclear cover of Morgen’s “Welcome To The Void”, inviting you to restart the ride again and again.

Wyndorf concludes:
“The great bands whose music we lovingly interpret here were (and some still are) on the fringe, underrated, and in our opinion, really, really cool. I think that’s reason enough for us to do this album. Furthermore, A Better Dystopia is a collection of songs that I think reflect (knowingly or unknowingly) a paranoid time in history, but also deflect that same paranoia by owning it, fully. And of course, it ROCKS.”

Pre-Order A Better Dystopia HERE: https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/monstermagnet

A Better Dystopia tracklisting:
1. The Diamond Mine (Dave Diamond)
2. Born to Go (Hawkwind)
3. Epitaph for a Head (JD Blackfoot)
4. Solid Gold Hell (The Scientists)
5. Be Forewarned (Macabre)
6. Mr. Destroyer (Poobah)
7. When the Wolf Sits (Jerusalem)
8. Death (The Pretty Things)
9. Situation (Josefus)
10. It’s Trash (The Cave Men)
11. Motorcycle (Straight to Hell) (Table Scraps)
12. Learning to Die (Dust)
13. Welcome to the Void – Bonus Track (Morgen)

A Better Dystopia will be available in North America in the following formats:
– 4 page CD Digipack
– 4 page CD Digipack + Patch (Napalm mailorder only)
– 2LP Gatefold Black
– 2LP Gatefold Pink Transparent (Napalm mailorder only ‚Äď limited to 300)
– 2LP Gatefold Glow In The Dark (Napalm mailorder only ‚Äď limited to 200)
– Limited Die Hard Edition: 2LP Gatefold Neon Green/Black Splatter + Slipmat (Napalm mailorder only ‚Äď limited to 200)
– Digital Album

MONSTER MAGNET is:
Dave Wyndorf – Vocals, Guitar
Phil Caivano – Guitar
Garret Sweeny – Guitar
Alec Morton – Bass
Bob Pantella – Drums

http://zodiaclung.com
https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/
https://www.instagram.com/monstermagnetofficial/
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

Monster Magnet, “Mr. Destroyer” official video

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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‚Äôs¬†Cobras and Fire: The Mastermind Redux¬†(review here), which did took on 2010‚Äôs 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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Friday Full-Length: Monster Magnet, Monolithic Baby!

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet monolithic baby

By the time Monster Magnet put out Monolithic Baby! in 2004, they were some six years removed from the commercial-radio triumph of 1998’s Powertrip. 2000’s God Says No had been their final outing through A&M Records as the label went belly-up, and as they signed to SPV — no small shakes, but not with a major imprint’s promotional power/resources — the landscape of music had also changed around them. File sharing at the turn of the century meant that music that was out there was in a sense tossed into a yet-untamed landscape of peer-to-peer traded mp3s. The entire industry would be remade by it, and in addition to rendering FM radio largely irrelevant (print media too, I’ll note as someone who spent a decade-plus writing for now-defunct publications), many of the has-all-the-cards capitalist excesses the music business indulged in the ’90s — CD singles, $18.99 discs at Sam Goody downstairs at the Rockaway Mall, etc. — were no longer a viable model. This, as well as the rise of hip-hop as a commercial mega-enterprise with the beginnings of a next-generation listenership, would seem to have left acts like¬†Monster Magnet in uncharted, uncomfortable territory. What on earth was a heavy rock band who had made their name in the before-times to do?

Many fell right apart, and with good reason. Monster Magnet wrote yet another collection of killer songs. Monolithic Baby! is crisp, it is clear, and it is loaded with hooks that speak to the band’s radio-edit-ready viability no less than its 63-minute runtime (for the US version) speaks to the CD era in which it was released. One would call its first four tracks — “Slut Machine,” “Supercruel,” “On the Verge” and the made-a-video-with-boobs-in-it single “Unbroken (Hotel Baby)” — a striking initial salvo, and it is, but the fact of the matter is there’s no letup from there whatsoever. “Radiation Day,” which follows directly, is an absolute highlight, and the subsequent semi-title-track “Monolithic,” with founding frontman Dave Wyndorf‘s smart, reference-laced lyrics already positioned as a generational indictment, sounds like what¬†AC/DC might’ve become if they’d gone to college. The rush of “The Right Stuff,” its insistent rhythm and blown-out vocal, comes from¬†Hawkwind‘s¬†Robert Calvert but thumps like dance music — and works, somehow — and the moody “There’s No Way Out of Here” is another cover, of the band¬†Unicorn, and momentary departure ahead of the prototypical grandiose declarations of “Master of Light” — “I’m Jesus, I’m Satan, I’m anyone you want me to be,” etc. — and the ever-righteous, always-welcome lead guitar of Ed Mundell.

As the album starts its wind-down with “Too Bad,” a jangly riff hints at¬†Wyndorf‘s affinity for ’60s psych without really going there — long gone were the days of 1995’s¬†Dopes to Infinity (discussed here), 1993’s¬†Superjudge (discussed here) and 1991’s landmark ¬†Spine of God¬†(discussed here;¬†reissue review here)¬†— but provides a breather as then-drummer¬†Michael Wildwood, who’d soon be replaced by¬†Bob Pantella (Raging Slab, etc.), sat out ahead of the largesse harnessed in the seven-minute “Ultimate Everything.” A slower riff from¬†Mundell and guitarist¬†Phil Caivano, and the unmitigated swagger of¬†Wyndorf‘s vocals over top, details of effects and layering bringing a welcome sense of weirdness and unpredictability to the proceedings as ever as the song builds to its and the album’s churning apex before capping with the mostly-instrumental “CNN War Theme,” an epilogue of sorts but a reminder now of the conflicts of that time, the US having “shocked and awed” Iraq in March 2003 and the oh-there’s-no-way-anything-could-ever-be-worse-than-this-post-9/11-ineptitude and feeding-Lockheed greed of the George W. Bush administration’s warmongering.

Simpler times.

A re-recording of “King of Mars,” aptly-titled “King of Mars 2004” revisits and adds percussion and spaciousness to that Dopes to Infinity¬†track, and “Venus in Furs” by¬†Velvet Underground wraps the US edition of¬†Monolithic Baby!, which is one of the best of the many covers¬†Monster Magnet have ever done, laced with mellotron as it is. The ability of the band at this point to be grounded in craft and so clear-headed in production while still tapping into these classic-but-outlying elements isn’t to be underappreciated. “Venus in Furs” sounds like it’s unearthing ancient secrets, and maybe that’s exactly what was happening,¬†Wyndorf‘s middle-finger to the next generation backed by such arcane noisemaking. Maybe that’s reading too much into it. Oh well. That’s what I do. That’s why it’s fun.

Monolithic Baby!¬†was also the point at which¬†Monster Magnet welcomed bassist Jim Baglino (Lord Sterling) to the fold, and the final album the band would release before¬†Wyndorf‘s much-publicized getting clean. The album that followed, 2007’s¬†4-Way Diablo, has been all but disavowed by the band —¬†Wyndorf will tell you he wasn’t there when it was mixed, though I’ve always been a little unclear if he’s speaking literally or figuratively — and 2010‚Äôs¬†Mastermind¬†(review here), which would prove to be¬†Mundell‘s last with the group. Massive in its production value,¬†Mastermind took¬†Monster Magnet to¬†Napalm Records, where they’d remain through 2013‚Äôs return to their space-rock-roots Last Patrol¬†(review here), 2014 and 2015‚Äôs Milking the Stars¬†(review here)¬†and¬†Cobras and Fire¬†(review here) ‚ÄĒ revisits of Last Patrol¬†and¬†Mastermind, the latter of which was a particular triumph — and 2018‚Äôs¬†Mindfucker¬†(review here), the last of which is their most recent offering.

Monolithic Baby!¬†and¬†Mindfucker have some commonalities in my head, and not just in that both their titles start with the letter ‘m.’ Both are rooted in¬†Wyndorf‘s intricate songwriting — and hardly alone in the band’s catalog for that — but both would seem to hint at changes to come in the band’s sound.¬†In the case of the earlier album, those involved matters both personal and of personnel, and as well as the kind of post-oblivion feel of¬†4-Way Diablo, the songs of which remain strong. I don’t know what¬†Monster Magnet might do next — re-sign with¬†Napalm? maybe embrace statesman-status on¬†Nuclear Blast or¬†Century Media? — but they were at the forefront of 2020’s pandemic reschedulings, pushing their Spring US tour themed around Powertrip to early next year which, now that we’re looking ahead to autumn, still seems ambitious.

Whatever outlet might get behind it, one hopes their studio exploration — mostly self-contained at this point with Wyndorf and¬†Caivano, though the band is rounded out by bassist¬†Chris Kosnik, guitarist¬†Garrett Sweeny and the aforementioned Pantella on drums; the latter three doubling as¬†The Atomic Bitchwax, whose new LP is out this month on¬†Tee Pee — continues, no matter where it might lead. I’ll forever advocate for¬†Wyndorf to get weirder, as¬†Last Patrol and¬†the two subsequent redux offerings did, but to be perfectly honest, I’ll take it as it comes, and as it isn’t generally what I reach for when I put on¬†Monster Magnet, I was glad to have the excuse to revisit¬†Monolithic Baby!¬†and gain a newfound appreciation for its tracks.

I hope you experience the same. Thanks for reading.

Ups and downs this week. Days with The Pecan and Puppy Omi are hard. He hits her, she nips at him. Through the gate to the kitchen, he swats, she jumps. What a mess. I yelled at him hard on Tuesday I guess it was, held his face in my hands and made him look at me — I’ve been concerned about his eye contact since he was like three months old — and told him his behavior was unacceptable, and there followed an argument with The Patient Mrs. about my being too aggressive and shaming. I had counterpoints. They don’t really matter. She gave me a book recommendation, I started reading and continued to feel awful until I fell asleep.

They found a rehab facility for my father and at the hospital, where he’d been for a month. They were waiting for a negative COVID test to move him. The results didn’t come back in time, but they moved him anyway. They sent me some medicaid form to fill out. I’m not sure I have the legal authority to do that. So yeah. That’s still fun.

I’m also starting to hate this puppy. Strange to think of three weeks ago when I was ONLY trying to raise a toddler with speech issues in a global pandemic as being easy days, but having this dog has made everything more difficult. She whines. She barks. She pisses on the floor. She bites. And indeed, every time The Pecan gets within arm’s reach, he tries to smack her. I mean, I get it, but we can’t really have that in the long run. I don’t know how long we’re supposed to let the experiment go before calling it “nice shot” and moving on with our lives, but if it was today, that’d be fine. I have to take her to the vet in like 40 minutes. Maybe I can convince them to keep her.

Tonight is the Clutch Doom Saloon thing, which if I can get a pass I’ll review, otherwise might try to do the Dunbarrow one, but it’s kind of one or the other in terms of my available time to write. I have another premiere for Monday, so the day’s already good and full. Only so many hours and seemingly fewer all the time. I’ve been starting to transition back to waking up on either side of 4AM again — taking the dog out overnight has actually facilitated, since I was up — so that at least helped yesterday.

There’s other stuff next week. I can’t think clearly enough to remember what. Sorry. Probably more reviews slated than I’ll have energy to write. So it goes.

Alright. I gotta go. Great and safe weekend. Gimme show at 5 Eastern if you can listen. Thanks either way.

FRM.

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Monster Magnet Reschedule ‘Celebration of Powertrip‘ Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

New Jersey heavy psych/rockers Monster Magnet were due to start their ‘Celebration of Powertrip‘ US tour this coming Friday in Brooklyn. I’d been looking forward to it as I’m sure many others had. More than 10, and probably more than 50, which is why the show has been rescheduled for early 2021. A lot of this is happening. Fall tours will be insane, which of course is assuming the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is solved by then — and by “solved” I mean everyone stops caring and/or someone in the pharmaceutical industry figures out how to make money off it and gives a cure/treatment to enough rich people — and Monster Magnet are probably smarter to push off a little further to January.

They’ll begin in my beloved Garden State, at Starland Ballroom, and then hit Brooklyn, Boston, Philly and so on through the countryside on the rescheduled jaunt, the dates for which are freshly arrived from the PR wire and coated in disinfectant:

monster magnet (photo jeremy saffer)

MONSTER MAGNET Announces Rescheduled 2021 ‚ÄúCelebration of Powertrip” US Tour Dates

Due to the due to the current outbreak and ban on public gatherings, Monster Magnet have postponed their ‚ÄúCelebration of Powertrip‚ÄĚ tour to 2021. Tickets for all postponed dates will be honored for the newly scheduled shows. Find a complete list of dates below.

Frontman, Dave Wyndorf on the unfortunate situation, ‚ÄúSo sorry to postpone the tour but under the circumstances I‚Äôm sure everybody can relate. Sweaty, live rock music and pandemics aren‚Äôt a good mix. So, we‚Äôre gonna reschedule this thing and do it at a time when everyone can rub shoulders without freaking out! Thanks to everyone who bought tickets. Stay well and we‚Äôll see you on the other side!‚ÄĚ

Rescheduled Dates For 2021:
1/21: Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
1/22: Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
1/23: Boston, MA @ Sinclair
1/24: Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
1/26: Pittsburgh, PA @ Rex Theater
1/27: Toronto, ON @ The Opera House
1/29: Flint, MI @ The Machine Shop
1/30: Chicago, IL @ The Metro
1/31: Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line
2/2: Denver, CO @ The Oriental Theater
2/3: Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Bar
2/5: Vancouver, BC @ The Rickshaw
2/6: Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
2/7: Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
2/9: San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
2/10: Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda
2/11: Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
2/12: San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
2/15: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar & Grill
2/17: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
2/18: Charleston, SC @ The Music Farm
2/19: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Sound Stage

Powertrip was the band’s commercial breakthrough, achieving mainstream success due largely to the hit single, “Space Lord”. Other hit songs on the album include “Powertrip”, “Temple of Your Dreams”, and “See You in Hell”. The album itself, reached #1 on the Heatseekers Charts, #21 in the German Charts, #65 in the UK Charts, and #97 on the Billboard 200. The album was certified gold by the RIAA on January 25, 1999.

MONSTER MAGNET line up:
Dave Wyndorf (vocals, guitar)
Garrett Sweeny (guitar)
Phil Caivano (guitar)
Chris Kosnik (bass)
Bob Pantella (drums)

http://zodiaclung.com
https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/
https://www.instagram.com/monstermagnetofficial/

Monster Magnet, “Powertrip” live at Bizarre Fest 1998

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Monster Magnet to Tour US Celebrating Powertrip Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet

As they head abroad this week to begin a European tour centered around their Powertrip album that was announced last Fall, it seems only fair that Monster Magnet should announce their next run doing much the same in the US. Being someone who also hopes never to work another day in his life, that album’s central message rings pretty damn true to my ears and it kind of always has, but how could such dropping-out-of-life be anything less than relevant to the times in which we live? Of all Dave Wyndorf‘s many aggrandizing lyrical proclamations, Powertrip — the record that brought forth the mega-single “Space Lord” in addition to its title-track, “See You in Hell,” and so on — was the album that set the pattern for what the band would do over their next four, arguably five, albums, and it cast their influence wide in a way that has endured the 22 years since its release.

Why now to bring it into this kind of focus? Who cares? Because it’s a party? Because it’ll bring people out? Maybe if we’re lucky they’ll make a live album.

Here are all the dates:

MONSTER MAGNET Announces ‚ÄúA Celebration of Powertrip‚ÄĚ North American Tour

Nebula and Silvertomb to Support

Kicks off March 20th in Brooklyn, NY

Psych Rock Legends Monster Magnet will return to the road in North America this Spring to celebrate their historic release Powertrip. Their live set will feature select cuts from this seminal album as well as your Monster Magnet favorites. Support on the tour will come from Nebula and Silvertomb. The tour begins March 20th in Brooklyn, NY and runs through April 18th in Sayreville, NJ. A complete list of dates can be found below.

MONSTER MAGNET W/ Nebula and Silvertomb:
3/20: Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
3/21: Boston, MA @ Sinclair
3/22: Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
3/24: Pittsburgh, PA @ Rex Theater
3/25: Toronto, ON @ The Opera House
3/27: Flint, MI @ The Machine Shop
3/28: Chicago, IL @ The Metro
3/29: Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line
3/31: Denver, CO @ The Oriental Theater
4/1: Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Bar
4/3: Vancouver, BC @ The Rickshaw
4/4: Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
4/5: Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
4/7: San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
4/8: Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda
4/9: Las Vegas, NV @ The House of Blues
4/10: San Diego, CA @ Observatory North Park
4/13: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill
4/15: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
4/16: Charleston, SC @ The Music Farm
4/17: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Sound Stage
4/18: Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom

Monster Magnet European Tour:
Jan 22 Glasgow UK The Garage
Jan 23 Leeds UK O2 Academy Leeds
Jan 24 London UK The Forum
Jan 25 Utrecht NL Tivoliredenburg
Jan 27 Oslo NO John Dee
Jan 28 Gothenburg SWE Pustervikbaren
Jan 29 Malmo SWE Kulturbolaget (KB)
Jan 31 Leuven BE Het Depot V2W
Feb 01 Berlin DE Metropol
Feb 03 Cologne DE Essigfabrik & Sensor Club
Feb 04 Munich DE Muffathalle
Feb 05 Hamburg DE Markthalle
Feb 07 Bremen DE Schlachthof
Feb 08 Dresden DE Reithalle
Feb 09 Stuttgart DE LKA Longhorn
Feb 10 Dortmund DE FZW
Feb 12 Antwerp BE Trix
Feb 13 Wiesbaden DE Schlacthof
Feb 15 Zagreb CR Mochvara
Feb 16 Vienna AT Simm City
Feb 17 Zurich CH Dynamo
Feb 18 Trezzo Sull’Adda IT Live Club
Feb 20 Pamplona Navarra ES Sala Zentral
Feb 21 Santiago de Compostela ES Sala Capitol
Feb 22 Madrid ES Sala Mon
Feb 23 Barcelona ES Razzmatazz

Powertrip was the band’s commercial breakthrough, achieving mainstream success due largely to the hit single, “Space Lord”. Other hit songs on the album include “Powertrip”, “Temple of Your Dreams”, and “See You in Hell”. The album itself, reached #1 on the Heatseekers Charts, #21 in the German Charts, #65 in the UK Charts, and #97 on the Billboard 200. The album was certified gold by the RIAA on January 25, 1999.

MONSTER MAGNET line up:
Dave Wyndorf (vocals, guitar)
Garrett Sweeny (guitar)
Phil Caivano (guitar)
Chris Kosnik (bass)
Bob Pantella (drums)

http://zodiaclung.com
https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/
https://www.instagram.com/monstermagnetofficial/

Monster Magnet, “Powertrip” live at Bizarre Fest 1998

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Monster Magnet Announce Powertrip European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet (photo jeremy saffer)

The year was 1998 and the band stomping all over hearts and minds in the most righteous fashion possible was Monster Magnet. The great heavy rock hope. A band who, over the next year-plus, would find commercial viability in a way that just about no one had before and just about no one has since. Powertrip may have been the NJ outfit’s fourth record, but it’s an unquestionable landmark. It put their home state and mine on the map for heavy rock and roll in a way that still ripples out, and it brought them not only fame, but to a new place stylistically where they turned pop culture back on its own head and delighted as it ate both itself and what they were feeding it. That record was something else.

They’ll tour Europe for a month-plus this coming winter playing it in full. Yeah, you’re gonna hear “Space Lord,” which you probably were anyhow at a Monster Magnet gig, but you’re also gonna hear “Goliath and the Vampires,” and that’s some shit that doesn’t happen every day. I don’t know if they’re doing it in order or what, but whatever, it’s a celebration worth celebrating.

Dates follow, as dutifully transcribed from the Chris Smith poster by yours truly and probably all screwed up:

monster magnet europe 2020

Monster Magnet is back!! We are stoked to announce Monster Magnet Europe 2020! A Celebration of the Record “Powertrip” plus much more! Stay tuned for ticket links!

Monster Magnet live:
Jan 22 Glasgow UK The Garage
Jan 23 Leeds UK O2 Academy Leeds
Jan 24 London UK The Forum
Jan 25 Utrecht NL Tivoliredenburg
Jan 27 Oslo NO John Dee
Jan 28 Gothenburg SWE Pustervikbaren
Jan 29 Malmo SWE Kulturbolaget (KB)
Jan 31 Leuven BE Het Depot V2W
Feb 01 Berlin DE Metropol
Feb 03 Cologne DE Essigfabrik & Sensor Club
Feb 04 Munich DE Muffathalle
Feb 05 Hamburg DE Markthalle
Feb 07 Bremen DE Schlachthof
Feb 08 Dresden DE Reithalle
Feb 09 Stuttgart DE LKA Longhorn
Feb 10 Dortmund DE FZW
Feb 12 Antwerp BE Trix
Feb 13 Wiesbaden DE Schlacthof
Feb 15 Zagreb CR Mochvara
Feb 16 Vienna AT Simm City
Feb 17 Zurich CH Dynamo
Feb 18 Trezzo Sull’Adda IT Live Club
Feb 20 Pamplona Navarra ES Sala Zentral
Feb 21 Santiago de Compostela ES Sala Capitol
Feb 22 Madrid ES Sala Mon
Feb 23 Barcelona ES Razzmatazz

MONSTER MAGNET line up:
Dave Wyndorf (vocals, guitar)
Garrett Sweeny (guitar)
Phil Caivano (guitar)
Chris Kosnik (bass)
Bob Pantella (drums)

http://zodiaclung.com
https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/
https://www.instagram.com/monstermagnetofficial/

Monster Magnet, “Powertrip” official video

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