Quarterly Review: Pelican, My Dying Bride, Masonic Wave, Bismarck, Sun Moon Holy Cult, Daily Thompson, Mooch, The Pleasure Dome, Slump, Green Hog Band

Posted in Reviews on May 20th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The-Obelisk-Quarterly-Review

Welcome back to the Quarterly Review. Good weekend? Restful? Did you get out and see some stuff? Did you loaf and hang out on the couch? There are advantages to either, to be sure. Friday night I watched my daughter (and a literal 40 other performers, no fewer than four of whom sang and/or danced to the same Taylor Swift song) do stand-up comedy telling math jokes at her elementary school variety show. She’s in kindergarten, she likes math, and she killed. Nice little moment for her, if one that came as part of a long evening generally.

The idea this week is the same as last week: 50 releases covered across five days. Put the two weeks together and the Spring 2024 Quarterly Review — which I’m pretty sure is what I called the one in March as well; who cares? — runs 100 strong. I’ll be traveling, some with family, some on my own, for a bit in the coming months, so this is a little bit my way of clearing my slate before that all happens, but it’s always satisfying to dig into so much and get a feel for what different acts are doing, try and convey some of that as directly as I can. If you’re reading, thanks. If this is the first you’re seeing of it and you want to see more, you can either scroll down or click here.

Either way, off we go.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Pelican, Adrift/Tending the Embers

pelican adrift tending the embers

Chicago (mostly-)instrumentalist stalwarts Pelican haven’t necessarily been silent since 2019’s Nighttime Stories (review here), with a digital live release in Spring 2020, catalog reissues on Thrill Jockey, a couple in-the-know covers posted and shows hither and yon, but the stated reason for the two-songer EP Adrift/Tending the Embers is to raise funds ahead of recording what will be their seventh album in a career now spanning more than 20 years. In addition to that being a cause worth supporting — they’re on the second pressing; 200 blue tapes — the two new original tracks “Adrift” (5:48) and “Tending the Embers” (4:26) reintroduce guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec as a studio presence alongside guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw, bassist Bryan Herweg and drummer Larry Herweg. Recorded by the esteemed Sanford Parker, neither cut ranges too far conceptually from the band’s central modus bringing together heavy groove with lighter/brighter reach of guitar, but come across like a tight, more concise encapsulation of earlier accomplishments. There’s a certain amount of comfort in that as they surf the crunching, somehow-noise-rock-inspired riff of “Adrift,” sounding refreshed in their purpose in a way that one hopes they can carry into making the intended LP.

Pelican website

Pelican on Bandcamp

My Dying Bride, A Mortal Binding

My Dying Bride A Mortal Binding

Something of a harsher take on A Mortal Binding, which is the 15th full-length from UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride, as well as their second for Nuclear Blast behind 2020’s lush The Ghost of Orion (review here. The seven-song/55-minute offering from the masters of misery derives its character in no small part from the front-mixed vocals of Aaron Stainthorpe, who from opener “Her Dominion” onward, switches between his morose semi-spoken approach, woeful as ever, and dry-throated harsher barks. And that the leadoff is all-screams feels like a purposeful choice as that rasp returns in the second half of “The 2nd of Three Bells,” the 11-minute “The Apocalyptist,” “A Starving Heart” and the ending section of closer “Crushed Embers.” I don’t know when the last time a My Dying Bride LP sounded so roiling, but it’s been a minute. The duly morose riffing of founding guitarist Andrew Craighan unites this outwardly nastier aspect with the more melodic “Thornwyck Hymn,” “Unthroned Creed” and the rest that isn’t throatripper-topped, but with returning producer Mark Mynett, the band has clearly honed in on a more stripped-down, still-room-for-violin approach, and it works in just about everything but the drums, which sound triggered/programmed in the way of modern metal. It remains easy to get caught in the band’s wretched sweep, and I’ll note that it’s a rare act who can surprise you 15 records later.

My Dying Bride website

Nuclear Blast webstore

Masonic Wave, Masonic Wave

Masonic Wave Masonic Wave

Masonic Wave‘s self-titled debut is the first public offering from the Chicago-based five-piece with Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Corrections House, Led Zeppelin II, etc.) on vocals, and though “Justify the Cling” has a kind of darker intensity in its brooding first-half ambience, what that build and much besides throughout the eight-song offering leads to is a weighted take on post-hardcore that earlier pieces “Bully” and “Tent City” present in duly confrontational style before “Idle Hands” (the longest inclusion at just under eight minutes) digs into a similar explore-till-we-find-the-payoff ideology and “Julia” gnashes through noise-rock teethkicking. Some of the edge-of-the-next-outburst restlessness cast by Lamont, guitarists Scott Spidale and Sean Hulet, bassist Fritz Doreza and drummer Clayton DeMuth reminds of Chat Pile‘s arthouse disillusion, but “Nuzzle Up” has a cyclical crunch given breadth through the vocal melody and the sax amid the multiple angles and sharp corners of the penultimate “Mountains of Labor” are a clue to further weirdness to come before “Bamboozler” closes with heads-down urgency before subtly branching into a more spacious if still pointedly unrelaxed culmination. No clue where it might all be headed, but that’s part of the appeal as Masonic Wave‘s Sanford Parker-produced 39 minutes play out, the songs engaging almost in spite of themselves.

Masonic Wave on Bandcamp

Masonic Wave on Bandcamp

Bismarck, Vourukasha

BISMARCK VOURUKASHA

There are shades of latter-day Conan (whose producer/former bassist Chris Fielding mixed here) in the vocal trades and mega-toned gallop of opening track “Sky Father,” which Bismarck expand upon with the more pointedly post-metallic “Echoes,” shifting from the lurching ultracrush into a mellower midsection before the blastbeaten crescendo gives over to rumble and the hand-percussion-backed whispers of the intro to “Kigal.” Their first for Dark Essence, the six-song/35-minute Vourukasha follows 2020’s Oneiromancer (review here) and feels poised in its various transitions between consuming aural heft and leaving that same space in the mix open for comparatively minimal exploration. “Kigal” takes on a Middle Eastern lean and stays unshouted/growled for its five-plus minutes — a choice that both works and feels purposeful — but the foreboding drone of interlude “The Tree of All Seeds” comes to a noisy head as if to warn of the drop about to take place in the title-track, which flows through its initial movement with an emergent float of guitar that leads into its own ambient middle ahead of an engrossing, duly massive slowdown/payoff worthy of as much volume as it can be given. Wrapping with the nine-minute “Ocean Dweller,” they summarize what precedes on Vourukasha while shifting the structure as an extended, vocal-inclusive-at-the-front soundscape bookends around one more huge, slow-marching, consciousness-flattening procession. Extremity refined.

Bismarck on Facebook

Dark Essence Records website

Sun Moon Holy Cult, Sun Moon Holy Cult

Sun Moon Holy Cult Sun Moon Holy Cult

That fact that Sun Moon Holy Cult exist on paper as a band based in Tokyo playing a Sabbath-boogie-worshiping, riff-led take on heavy rock with a song like “I Cut Your Throat” leading off their self-titled debut makes a Church of Misery comparison somewhat inevitable, but the psych jamming around the wah-bass shuffle of “Out of the Dark,” longer-form structures, the vocal melodies and the Sleep-style march of “Savoordoom” that grows trippier as it delves further into its 13 minutes distinguish the newcomer four-piece of vocalist Hakuka, guitarist Ryu, bassist Ame and drummer Bato across the four-song LP’s 40 minutes. Issued through Captured Records and SloomWeep Productions, Sun Moon Holy Cult brings due bombast amid the roll of “Mystic River” as well, hitting its marks stylistically while showcasing the promise of a band with a clear idea of what they want their songs to do and perhaps how they want to grow over time. If this is to be the foundation of that growth, watch out.

Sun Moon Holy Cult on Instagram

Captured Records website

SloomWeep Productions on Bandcamp

Daily Thompson, Chuparosa

Daily Thompson Chuparosa

Dortmund, Germany’s Daily Thompson made their way to Port Orchard, Washington, to record Chuparosa with Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed at the helm, and the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Danny Zaremba, bassist/vocalist Mercedes Lalakakis and drummer/vocalist Thorsten Stratmann bring a duly West Coast spirit to “I’m Free Tonight” and the grunge-informed roll of “Diamond Waves” and the verses of “Raindancer.” The former launches the 36-minute outing with a pointedly Fu Manchuian vibe, but the start-stops, fluid roll and interplay of vocals from Zaremba and Lalakakis lets “Pizza Boy” move in its own direction, and the brooding acoustic start of “Diamond Waves” and more languid wash of riff in the chorus look elsewhere in ’90s alternativism for their basis. The penultimate “Ghost Bird” brings in cigar-box guitar and dares some twang amid all the fuzz, but as “Raindancer” has already branched out with its quieter bassy midsection build and final desert-hued thrust, the album can accommodate such a shift without any trouble. The title-track trades between wistful grunge verses and a fuller-nodding hook, from which the three-piece take off for the bridge, thankfully returning to the chorus in Chuparosa‘s big finish. The manner in which the whole thing brims with purpose makes it seem like Daily Thompson knew exactly what they were going for in terms of sound, so I guess you could say it was probably worth the trip.

Daily Thompson on Facebook

Noisolution website

Mooch, Visions

mooch visions

Kicking off with the markedly Graveyardian “Hangtime,” Mooch ultimately aren’t content to dwell solely in a heavy-blues-boogie sphere on Visions, their third LP and quick follow-up to 2023’s Hounds. Bluesy as the vibe is from which the Montreal trio set out, the subsequent “Morning Prayer” meanders through wah-strum open spaces early onto to delve into jangly classic-prog strum later, while “Intention” backs its drawling vocal melody with nylon-stringed acoustic guitar and hand percussion. Divergence continues to be the order of the day throughout the 41-minute eight-songer, with “New Door” shifting from its sleepy initial movement into an even quieter stretch of Doors-meets-Stones-y melody before the bass leads into its livelier solo section with just a tinge of Latin rhythm and “Together” giving more push behind a feel harkening back to the opener but that grows quiet and melodically expansive in its second half. This sets up the moodier vibe of “Vision” and gives the roll of “You Wouldn’t Know” an effective backdrop for its acoustic/electric blend and harmonized vocals, delivered patiently enough to let the lap steel slide into the arrangement easily before the brighter-toned “Reflections” caps with a tinge of modern heavy post-rock. What’s tying it together? Something intangible. Momentum. Flow. Maybe just the confidence to do it? I don’t know, but as subdued as they get, they never lose their momentum, and as much movement as their is, they never seem to lose their balance. Visions might not reveal its full scope the first time through, but subsequent listens bring due reward.

Mooch on Facebook

Mooch on Bandcamp

The Pleasure Dome, Liminal Space

The Pleasure Dome Liminal Space EP

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it that guitarist/vocalist Bobby Spender recruited bassist Loz Fancourt and drummer Harry Flowers after The Pleasure Dome‘s prior rhythm section left, ahead of putting together the varied 16 minutes of the Liminal Space EP. For what it’s worth, the revamped Bristol, UK, trio don’t sound any more haphazard than they want to in the loose-swinging sections of “Shoulder to Cry On” that offset the fuller shove of the chorus, or the punk-rooted alt-rock brashness of “The Duke Part II (Friends & Enemies),” and the blastbeat-inclusive tension of “Your Fucking Smile” that precedes the folk-blues finger-plucking of “Sugar.” Disjointed? Kind of, but that also feels like the point. Closer “Suicide” works around acoustic guitar and feels sincere in the lines, “Suicide, suicide/I’ve been there before/I’ve been there before/On your own/So hold on,” and the profession of love that resolves it, and while that’s at some remove from the bitter spirit of the first two post-intro tracks, Liminal Space makes its own kind of sense with the sans-effects voice of Spender at its core.

The Pleasure Dome on Facebook

Hound Gawd! Records website

Slump, Dust

Slump Dust EP

A solid four-songer from Birmingham’s Slump, who are fronted by guitarist Matt Noble (also Alunah), with drummer David Kabbouri Lara and bassist Ben Myles backing the riff-led material with punch in “Buried” after the careening hook of “Dust” opens with classic scorch in its solo and before the slower and more sludged “Kneel” gets down to its own screamier business and “Vultures” rounds out with a midtempo stomp early but nods to what seems like it’s going to be a more morose finish until the drum solo takes off toward the big-crash finish. As was the case on Slump‘s 2023 split with At War With the Sun, the feel across Dust is that of a nascent band — Slump got together in 2018, but this is their most substantial standalone release to-date — figuring out what they want to do. The ideas are there, and the volatility at which “Kneel” hints will hopefully continue to serve them well as they explore spaces between metal and heavy rock, classic and modern styles. A progression underway toward any number of potential avenues.

Slump on Facebook

Slump on Bandcamp

Green Hog Band, Fuzz Realm

Green Hog Band Fuzz Realm

What dwells in Green Hog Band‘s Fuzz Realm? If you said “fuzz,” go ahead and get yourself a cookie (the judges also would’ve accepted “riffs” and “heavy vibes, dude”), but for those unfamiliar with the New Yorker trio’s methodology, there’s more to it than tone as guitarist/producer Mike Vivisector, bassist/vocalist Ivan Antipov and drummer Ronan Berry continue to carve out their niche of lo-fi stoner buzz marked by harsh, gurgly vocals in the vein of Attila Csihar, various samples, organ sounds and dug-in fuckall. “Escape on the Wheels” swings and chugs instrumentally, and “In the Mist of the Bong” has lyrics in English, so there’s no lack of variety despite the overarching pervasiveness of misanthropy. That mood is further cast in the closing salvo of the low-slung “Morning Dew” and left-open “Phantom,” both of which are instrumental save for some spoken lines in the latter, as the prevailing sense is that they were going to maybe put some verses on there but decided screw it and went back to their cave (presumably somewhere in Queens) instead, because up yours anyhow. 46 minutes of crust-stoned “up yours anyhow,” then.

Green Hog Band on Facebook

The Swamp Records on Bandcamp

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Mooch Announce Fall Tour; New Album Out Oct. 6

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 27th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Groovy single from the new Mooch record, which as I understand it will have its details announced probably 37 seconds after this post goes live — train’s never late! — and those who miss the likes of Stubb or Asteroid will want to dig into that hook on “Crimson,” which is streaming below. The verse is more about space and the chorus fills that, which is familiar enough as formulas go, but the prevailing vibe is mellow heavy and the song has kind of an oldschool vibe. No complaints from me, in any case.

The Montreal three-piece will head out the week after release in order to hand deliver riffs to audiences across Canada. There are a couple weekenders and one-offs they’ll undertake, and I would assume that there’s more to come. On the chance that the album announce does happen right as this is getting posted, I’ll update it accordingly and probably add some side parenthetical here about timing. You know, the standard procedure.

The band posted their dates on social media, as will happen. Couple TBDs in there. Look for this and more exciting content, courtesy of your favorite provider.

Blargh:

Mooch

We present to you a Fall 2023 Tour of Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick to celebrate the release of their upcoming full length record due October 6th 2023.

Tickets: https://thepointofsale.com/tickets/mooch2023

Oct.12 – Ottawa – Live on Elgin
Oct.13 – Montreal – The Purple Room
Oct.14 – Oshawa – The Atria
Oct.19 – Rimouski – L’Underground
Oct.20 – Québec City – Scanner Bistro
Oct.21 – Trois-Rivières – Taverne Royale
Oct.26 – Hamilton – Doors Taco Joint
Oct.27 – London – Palasad

Nov.2 – Guelph – Silence
Nov.3 – Niagara Falls – Camp Cataract
Nov.4 – Brampton – Tracks Pub
Nov.9 – Fredericton – TBD
Nov.10 – St.John – TBD
Nov.11 – Moncton – Tide and Boar
Nov.17 – Sherbrooke – Le Murdoch

*More dates to come*

MOOCH are:
Ben Cornel – Guitar, Vocals
Alex Segreti – Drums, Backing Vocals
Julian Iac – Bass, Backing Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/moochmusicofficial/
https://www.instagram.com/moochmusicofficial/
https://moochmusicofficial.bandcamp.com/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/1mVwVHtrvo6V2letIqRV7X

Mooch, Hounds (2020)

Mooch, “Crimson” official video

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Mooch Announce New Single “The Start”; Album Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Heralding their follow-up to 2020’s full-length Hounds (discussed here), yet untitled, Montreal heavy rock trio Mooch unveil “The Start” as a first of three singles from their sophomore LP. When that’s out, what it’s called, and various other details about its making and release — well, I just don’t know. But I’ve heard the track and it’s under three minutes, has an easy roll like earliest Queens of the Stone Age with a bit of the swagger necessary to pull that off, reminding a bit of Heavy Glow in the process, but en route to having their own spin. As regards beginnings, “The Start” is an auspicious one.

You might recall Hounds was recorded by Brant Bjork in the California desert. “The Start” and presumably the album from whence it comes were tracked under different circumstances, but Mooch clearly learned some lessons on how to be heavy and laid back at the same time from the experience. You can hear that in “The Start” for sure. As soon as I find out more about the LP, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, the single releases Aug. 25, which is this Friday.

Info from the PR wire:

MOOCH-THE START

MOOCH – THE START

‘The Start’ is a song inspired by the effort it takes to continuously grow in a relationship. It is a song about MOOCH finding a way to pave a new path forward. Running at 2:57 minutes long, ‘The Start’ lays down a heavy rock groove complete with hand-perc accented sections, stacked vocal harmonies and an eccentric solo section.

The song’s release will be the first of 3 singles, set to come out August 25th, 2023, on all streaming platforms. Promotion will follow the narrative of their latest trip to Yellowknife, Canada. Promo will include professional images and video content for paid ads on socials, a music video shot at the YK Airport, footage from their performance at Folk on the Rocks Festival and a vinyl release for the upcoming record. Lastly, an Eastern Canadian Fall Tour is set to follow the release of the full album.

Recorded by Jordan Barillaro @ Tonebender, Jared Matthews @ Soundbagger Studio, and Julian Iac @ Icebox Studios
Mixed by Julian Iac
Mastered by Richard Addison @ Trillium Sound Mastering Studio

MOOCH are:
Ben Cornel – Guitar, Vocals
Alex Segreti – Drums, Backing Vocals
Julian Iac – Bass, Backing Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/moochmusicofficial/
https://www.instagram.com/moochmusicofficial/
https://moochmusicofficial.bandcamp.com/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/1mVwVHtrvo6V2letIqRV7X

Mooch, Hounds (2020)

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Six Dumb Questions with MOOCH

Posted in Features on January 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

mooch

Montreal-based three-piece Mooch — also stylized all-caps: MOOCH — self-released their debut album, Hounds, on April 20, 2020. Fun timing for a heavy rock record, save for the year. But the trio of guitarist/vocalist Ben Cornel, drummer/backing vocalist Alex Segreti and gone-then-returned bassist/backing vocalist Julian Iacovantuono brought desert-captured vibe that was actually captured in the desert to combat the restlessness of last Spring’s lockdown, and Hounds dips in and out of heavy blues on a cut like “Feel Good” after a little wah trippiness in the funky rollout of “Blues Man’s Face” earlier on. The songs are tight structurally but flow easy, and all 10 of ’em — even the interlude “Lucid,” which is discussed below — contribute to the strength of the whole.

The story of the album — which is just sitting there; it would be begging to be picked up for a vinyl release were it not actually playing it so darn cool; it’s like, “Hey, no big deal, you could put me out as a 12″ I’ve got some cool artwork and I’m a good time” — is of course that they, as a band based on the other side of the continent, pilgrimaged to Twentynine Palms, California, to record at Jalamanta Studios with Brant Bjork and Bubba DuPree. And as narratives go, that’s pretty good. Have songs, will travel. The full reality of the situation is more complex; they did do live tracking with DuPreeBjork and Yosef Sanborn in CA, then returned home and filled those out with overdubbed elements, backing vocal arrangements, and so on, working with Joe Segreti (who also guests on lap steel) at SEGPOP Studios.

One way or the other, though, what Hounds has got is vibe, and it’s got plenty of it. And better, vibe set alongside choice songcraft that doesn’t make its hooks overbearing but most certainly gets its point across and seals Mooch as a band who, though their path getting there was somewhat bumpy — with Iacovantuono going then coming back, completing and refining the songs as a duo, recording in two studios, etc. — know the sound they’re looking for and obviously knew what they wanted to do to capture it. As a debut — which, again, really, someone should step up and put out on vinyl — it more than does its job in serving notice of their intent.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions.

MOOCH HOUNDS

Six Dumb Questions with MOOCH

Tell me about traveling from Montreal to California to record in the desert. How did it come about, how long were you there, and what made you take that trip? Tell me about going. Did you all travel together? What was that trip like for you personally?

Ben Cornel: It was all such a surreal experience. Our trip to California came about in the most cinematic type of circumstances. Alex and myself were touring Eastern Canada as a drum-guitar duo in the spring leading up to the summer 2018 trip. We played a show in Oshawa, Ontario, to a house of maybe 12 people, all band members included. One of the musicians we shared the stage with that night, Andre from Slow Death Lights, came up to us after our set and asked us if we dug Brant Bjork’s music. Absolutely we did and do. MOOCH has always listed Kyuss as one of our biggest influences. That’s why our jaws dropped when Andre mentioned that if we were serious about cutting a record he could potentially introduce us to Brant through email. We left that night being very stoked but also skeptical of the probability of a deal coming through. We gave it a shot and sent Brant an email with some of our music. He replied a couple days later with a simple four word response: Let’s make a record. Within two weeks from that night we had connected with Brant, settled a date, and bought tickets to Palm Springs. We spent the next five months putting together our debut LP HOUNDS.

Alex Segreti: We had booked five August days of studio time with Brant and his team: producer Bubba Dupree, and engineer Yosef Sanborn of Massive FX Pedals. This was the team that weeks prior to our arrival had recorded Brant’s 13th album, Mankind Woman, in the same place that we were headed to, Jalamanta Studios. At the time, we were still a guitar-drum duo hellbent on pulling off some White Stripes-esque two-piece album with as little studio magic as possible. We had spent five months of rehearsing and writing full-time so that we could ace our performances under the red light. Although not working in the band at the time, current MOOCH bassist/vocalist Julian worked hard with us to prepare this album.

Julian Iacovantuono: The pre-prod stage was the first time that Alex, Ben, and I reconnected in a MOOCH context. Since they were only spending a short amount of time in the desert, they wanted the songs to be as ironed-out as possible before going in to record; so they asked me to help them out with the pre-prod. During those sessions, we recorded formal demos, and went over song structure, vocal harmonies, and guitar overdubs.

Ben Cornel: We wanted to absolutely nail this album. We had the chance to open for Yawning Man in Montreal a few months earlier. Meeting and playing with those guys was a rad experience, and now, to get the chance to travel to Joshua Tree to collaborate with Brant in the desert that saw the mythical generator parties and births of Kyuss, Yawning Man, Queens of the Stone Age… we were beyond stoked. For these reasons that trip took on such a personal tone as well. For example, the kit that we recorded on was dubbed ‘the Kyuss kit’. Brant had used it for recording a majority of his drums throughout his career. He also shared with us that Dave Grohl had borrowed the kit whilst touring with Queens of the Stone Age for a Songs for the Deaf tour. Alex, being a gigantic Grohl fan as well as a QOTSA fan, practically collapsed at the realization that he was tracking on the kit. The stories that were shared in the post-recording hours of the day were so what made it so memorable to connect with such a professional, hard working team of individuals. The stories ranged from Lollapalooza, holding Hendrix’s burnt guitar at Frank Zappa’s home studio, and the likes of Soundgarden and Paul McCartney. We were in the company of some of our biggest influences, and this record would not have come to be without the hard work everyone put in.

“Mantra” opens the record mellow and then smacks you in the face. How much did you want to draw out the louder side and the jammier stretches initially? Was that something you specifically wanted to bring out in the recording?

Alex Segreti: The idea that “Mantra” would open the record was suggested to us by our friend Nick who plays in a destructive doom rock band called KATÖ. He heard the mellow slow burn build and thought it would make a great opening. We ran with it and in the end it aligned with the concept of the album. Lyrically “Mantra” explores this flip-the-switch moment between realms. ‘Mantra’ is the switch, and the drop at the end of the song flips you into the realm of HOUNDS for the next 40 minutes.

The concept for the album initially, was that of the barebones duo. We didn’t want to overreach for spaces that we couldn’t hold live during shows. The realness of the album came through from the fact that it was recorded live, without a click. We were in the same room, side by side. This helped the mood flow and the jams come through. We really captured the emotions that we were feeling being there. The way the songs were written was trying to compensate for having a bass-less groove. We decided to keep the groove intact as much as possible instead of reach for the jammier improv moments. That being said, live, we had a massive rig going and we wanted that to come through. We still wanted a hefty punch to land on all ears and in the end we got there, but we ended up with the final sound after a split from our initial concept; which led to more work being done in Montreal after the fact.

How involved were Bubba Dupree and Brant Bjork as producers? What was recorded in Twentynine Palms as opposed to Montreal?

Ben Cornel: Brant was our initial contact and he essentially played the role of the old school producer. He brought the team together, worked on setting up the studio, getting gear, and overlooked the groovy vibes of the operation. Many conversations were had with him regarding style, sound, technique and attitude, among other things. He helped us direct our energy and intent into the music. Bubba Dupree was the producer who sat on every note, and went through the tracking process with us. He would recommend certain changes and had a tight vision for what he heard. We were open to all suggestions and it rolled very smoothly between us. We trusted Bubba’s vision without a shred of doubt and he went on to do a great job in mixing the album. His vibe, vision and contributions could also be heard all over Mankind Woman. Yosef Sanborn supplied some very tasty gear and was in full control of the board the entire time. We had never worked with an engineer who was so on the ball. He rolled with such precision and was calm, cool and collected the entire time. In the end, it was the five of us in this studio space together for many hours of the day. Everyone was fully immersed in the project and contributed to the magic that was expressed through this record.

Alex Segreti: Like we mentioned earlier, at one point, we had to split from the whole duo sound we had initially set out to grab. The drums, guitars and vocals that we recorded in the desert sounded great. Bubba had just gotten us some mixes but the basslessness was too evident. Bubba and Brant suggested we add bass to the record, and to the band. At this point we turned to the one and only Julian Iacovantuono. Julian had played bass in MOOCH for many years and had left the band at the end of 2017. As the duo form showed, we could not and did not replace him. We asked if he would like to rejoin and record bass on the record. He had seen the record at the demo stage and had the chemistry to understand the music. He accepted, and the MOOCH trio was re-birthed.

At this time we reached out to Joe Segreti at SEGPOP Studios. Joe recorded our 2017 Timewarp EP and also worked on arrangements for the album. We knew he had the touch to dial in what we were missing. Joe produced and engineered the Montreal part of the album and did a phenomenal job working with the music. With him we recorded bass, added back up vocals, guitar dubs, djembe and some special ingredients for atmospheric effect. When we look back at what we had leaving the desert and compare it to what we came away with after the Montreal chapter of the project, we are so grateful that Julian and Joe came in. Everything ended up blending in perfectly thanks to Joe and Julian’s amazing job at really understanding what we were trying to accomplish. Their contributions boosted the album to the weight that we always knew we wanted to punch at. We’ve always had our own team at home and we couldn’t be happier that this album did the distance between the desert and Montreal.

Tell me about “Lucid.” It’s such a quick jam but it does a lot atmospherically and ties the songs together around it. How much was laid out in pre-production and how much came to be in the studio?

Ben Cornel: Originally, the music for “Lucid” was supposed to be the extended outro for the track that precedes it, “Blues Man’s Face”. The part could be heard playing throughout the “Blues Man’s Face” riff drop. We recorded the extended outro in the studio without knowing what exactly we were going to do with it. At one point we decided to separate it from BMF and let it stand alone as an “Orchid”-type atmospheric break that Black Sabbath used on Master of Reality. The title “Lucid” fit the mood, and the track became the expression of our trip through the desert, which felt more like a lucid dream than reality.

Julian Iacovantuono: “Lucid,” for me, was probably the most fun track to write on. The guitars provide a vibey blank slate that allowed me to flow melodically with the bass. The only thing that I dislike about the track is how short it is. I think that if we knew what the song would become once we added the guitar dubs, bass, and djembe; we would have made it longer. When we play it live though, we always extend it by a few minutes.

Obviously 2020 was a weird year to release a debut album since you couldn’t really play live to support it. Has the pandemic affected your creative processes at all? Have you been inspired, restless, anything, during this time?

Julian Iacovantuono: This year has definitely been difficult on us as a band. The pandemic has taken from us the main thing we set out to do; play music for people. We’re beginning to get back to writing music and releasing content, so that’s definitely something to look forward to.

Alex Segreti: We are thankful to the people who connected with us and our music online during such a time of social isolation. We were able to find ways to connect with people outside of the live show atmosphere and explore the internet for sources that allow for musical discovery. We were lucky to set up a premiere with Doomed and Stoned back in April which connected us with some rad music lovers through Vegas Rock Revolution, Doom Charts, Obelisk, Kyuss World, Ripple Music. With the support of these communities we have managed to branch out and share our music with people all over the world. We eagerly await a safe reopening for everyone everywhere so that we could connect face-to-face.

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

We have recently opened our MOOCH Bandcamp store and released HOUNDS on CD. A few of our tour shirts are also still available. We are still working towards making the vinyl investment so that we could get the wax out to the world. We are grateful for everyone who has supported us and helped us along. Much more MOOCH to come.

Mooch, Hounds (2020)

Mooch on Thee Facebooks

Mooch on Bandcamp

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