Psycho Smokeout 2.0 Set for April 18; Weedeater, Acid King & More Confirmed

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Hey Psycho Smokeout 2.0 — sick fuggin’ lineup. With one headliner still TBA next month Psycho Entertainment and RidingEasy Records pair up to present the likes of Weedeater, Acid King, The Obsessed, Cough, Mondo Drag, Heavy Temple, The Well, Holy Grove, Salem’s Bend, and on and on, all on one day — April 18, 2020. Considering there are 19 acts confirmed, let’s assume there will be multiple stages going. I don’t know what that’ll do to the schedule — certainly possible to alternate — but however it happens, it’s a badass assemblage and there’s more to come. Tickets are on sale now, because seriously, why the hell wait?

So yes. Why wait?

From the PR wire:

psycho smokeout 2.0

PSYCHO SMOKEOUT 2.0 To Take Place April 18th, 2020; Lineup Includes Weedeater, The Obsessed, Acid King, Cough, And More + Early Bird Tickets On Sale Now!

Behold! PSYCHO SMOKEOUT 2.0 will make its annual descent upon Los Angeles’ multi-level Catch One Riff Compound April 18th, 2020!

Brought to you by Psycho Entertainment and RidingEasy Records, this year’s day-long puffathon features performances from nearly two-dozen artists including North Caroline stoner metal goliaths Weedeater, Maryland doom icons The Obsessed, California stoner rock veterans Acid King, and Virginia sludge bringers Cough, with the final headliner to be unveiled later this fall. Spread across three stages, the glassy-eyed gala will include a massive vendor market and more surprises to be announced in the weeks to come.

Early bird tickets for PSYCHO SMOKEOUT 2.0 go on sale Thursday September 19th. The limited early bird tickets are a cool $39 plus fees and are expected to sellout within 48 hours of being announced. The next tier will be $49 plus fees. The final tier will be $59 plus fees. Don’t sleep on this!

Nab your tickets today at THIS LOCATION.

PSYCHO SMOKEOUT 2.0 is a 420 friendly, 18 and over event.

Psycho Entertainment & RidingEasy Records Presents:
PSYCHO SMOKEOUT 2.0
April 18th, 2020
Catch One Riff Compound
Los Angeles, California

Lineup (in alphabetical order):
Acid King
Casket Raider
Cough
Deathchant
Great Electric Quest
Heavy Temple
Holy Grove
India Tigers In Texas
Leather Lung
Mondo Drag
Mother Iron Horse
Mountain Tamer
Pale Mare
Salem’s Bend
The Munsens
The Obsessed
The Well
Vaelmyst
Weedeater

http://www.vivapsycho.com/
http://www.ridingeasyrecs.com

Holy Grove, II (2018)

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Mountain Tamer Premiere New Single “Death in the Woods”

Posted in audiObelisk on February 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

MOUNTAIN TAMER

Los Angeles trio Mountain Tamer continue to elude easy classification with their new single. As they did on last year’s sophomore full-length, Godfortune // Dark Matters (review here), and the prior 2016 self-titled debut (review here), they offer psychotropic signals to the converted in waves of guitar effects casting out over a wide soundscape, but there’s something darker about “Death in the Woods” — certainly the title carries a sense of threat as well — lurking beneath the surface’s more shimmering aspects. Its low end is grim, its vocals just a bit throatier, so that as the song moves further into its crash-laden freakout, the screams that come aren’t entirely unexpected.

Mountain Tamer accomplish this in efficient time, as “Death in the Woods” is only about three and a half minutes long. They’ve tested waters in such mountain tamer death in the woodsa manner before, of course, whether it was their 2015 Mtn Tmr demo (review here) that preceded the first album or 2017’s Living in Vain (review here) that preceded the second. And we won’t know just how much of a foreshadow “Death in the Woods” is casting until their next release — it’ll reportedly be an EP — arrives, but the troubling undercurrent in Mountain Tamer continues to give them an edge that so much of West Coast psych simply doesn’t have. It’s not for the bro-down, skate-so-you-can-work-on-your-social-media-brand set. It’s up to something entirely more sinister.

It’s kind of a curious case with Mountain Tamer. Every time I stop listening to the band, especially the last album, I think to myself, “Nah, you’ve got it wrong,” and I go back trying to hear it with different ears, like maybe the party vibe is there and I’m just not getting it — would not be the first time I wasn’t invited to the party, by any means — but no. Even putting aside the name of it, if you listen to “Death in the Woods,” what you’re hearing is Mountain Tamer — Andru Hall on guitar/vocals, Dave Teget on bass and Casey Garcia on drums — take elements from the modern West Coast heavy psych movement and twist them toward their own ends. And those ends indeed seem to be twisted. As Hall intones in the verse, “It’s okay to be afraid.” So be it.

Mountain Tamer hit the road next month alongside Salem’s Bend, heading to SXSW and elsewhere. You’ll find those dates under the player below, as well as some quick comment from the band.

Please enjoy:

Mountain Tamer on “Death in the Woods”:

‘Death In The Woods’ is about surviving on primal instincts, and how in the end we are all wild animals. The song helps showcase the heavy groovy psychedelic sound Mountain Tamer has been honing in for years as well as gives a taste of an upcoming EP that is in the works.

Mountain Tamer Tour Dates:
3/7 – Las Vegas, NV – Vamp’d
3/8 – Ogden, UT – Brewski’s
3/9 – Denver, CO – Bar Bar
3/10 – Wichita, KS – The Elbow Room
3/11 – Oklahoma, OK – Blue Note Lounge
3/12 – Fort Worth, TX – Lola’s
3/13 – Houston, TX – Rudyard’s
3/14 – Austin, TX – Spiderhouse (SXSW Stoner Jam)
3/15 – San Antonio, TX – The Mix
3/16 – San Angelo, TX – Deadhorse
3/17 – El Paso, TX – Frank’s Rockin’ Cigar Bar

Mountain Tamer is:
Andru Hall – Guitar/Vocals
Casey Garcia – Drums
Dave Teget – Bass

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Mountain Tamer on Instagram

Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

Magnetic Eye Records website

Nasoni Records website

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Review & Track Premiere: Mountain Tamer, Godfortune Dark Matters

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mountain tamer godfortune dark matters

[Click play above to stream ‘Wretched’ by Mountain Tamer. Their new album, Godfortune Dark Matters, is out Aug. 24 on Magnetic Eye with Nasoni Records vinyl to follow.]

One tends to think of Californian heavy psych these days as kind of a cool-kids club of freakout-jamming skaters, ripping an endless barrage of solos in post-Earthless fashion. Los Angeles trio Mountain Tamer have their shredding aspects, to be sure, but are ultimately on a different, grimmer trip. Shades of cultish metal make their way in amid fuzz-guitar riffing, righteously-turning bass and wide-sounding drum crash as their second album, Godfortune // Dark Matters Comprised of a not-inconsiderable 11 tracks for an also-not-considerable 49-minute run, the Magnetic Eye Records and Nasoni Records release came prefaced by a two-song 2017 demo titled Living in Vain (review here) that had early versions of “Living in Vain Part 1” and “Wretched,” both of which reappear here.

That demo followed their 2016 Argonauta Records self-titled debut (review here) and 2015 Mtn Tmr demo (review here), both of which gave early showings of potential for the progression that would seem to be continuing here. As they push the LP format to its limits, they also push themselves into a more individualized sound, like a brooding take on youngest Nebula, maybe, but looser. There’s a sense in the drums of Casey Garcia that the whole thing could come apart at any time, as heard in “Primitive Control,” which leads off a side B (I think; if not, it provides a transition at the end of side A) made up of longer tracks featuring more exploration in the drums as well as from guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hall and bassist Dave Teget.

They’re not jamming, exactly. Even on 7:44 closer “Head Over Heels,” they choose to go with a slower march rather than fly off the handle on an improv sonic jaunt, but either way, there’s clearly a plan at work; a vision for the album as a whole and its method of expression. After the Sabbath-circa-’75 cacophony of opener “Faith Peddler,” there’s the chunkier riffing of “Funeral of a Dog,” which soon enough delves into tribalist percussion and flute behind echoing chants that in turn give way to a howling solo. And that’s the first two and a half minutes.

From there, they dip back into hard psych and stonerist vibes en route to the more straight-ahead approach of “People Problems,” a quick showcase of hook and instrumental dynamic, Hall layering in two solos, one more effects-drenched than the other, between choruses in the second half of the song before a quick shout and noise assault brings on the trad-metal chug of “Living in Vain Part 1.” It and the immediately following “Living in Vain Part 2” make their connection via Garcia‘s drums, but both also share a propensity for a weirdo vibe and earthy psych-rocking approach. The second part doesn’t have verses so much as repeated lines where they might otherwise be, and its thickened-garage intensity plays out with radiating energy that seems only to build on the song before.

mountain tamer

There’s some hypnotic aspect from the repetition, but Godfortune // Dark Matters is so brash-sounding in its production and delivery that it quickly snaps any trance it might induce. The dividing line between the first half of the record and the second is, suitably enough, centerpiece “Nectar,” which is a 1:43 psychedelic interlude of classic rocking form, just a quick instrumental that, in some ways similar to “Funeral of a Dog,” purposefully shifts the flow of momentum the album has thus far built in order to defy expectation. It’s emblematic of the level of thought Mountain Tamer have put into their second full-length overall, and “Primitive Control” continues the thread by picking up with a shove of cyclical riffing that is nothing short of masterful in its combination of sprawl and compressed atmospherics.

A break shortly before the three-minute mark brings in howling guitar, drum thud and steady bass — the latter is a welcome grounding force throughout — before a final solo finishes and leads to “Wretched,” which is a foreshadow to “Head Over Heels” still to come and a slower rollout altogether. That forces some of the earlier hairpin-turn-style danger elsewhere for the time being, but ultimately makes Godfortune // Dark Matters a richer listen with a wider aesthetic berth. Naturally it comes paired with the freak-assault of “Mydnyte” — two ‘y’s! it’s madnyss — the five and a half minutes of which read like a guidebook for the outer reaches of the known psychedelic cosmos. It switches between solidified riff-chugness and such spacey fare, with a wash of noise at the end that brings on the shorter “Riff Dealer.”

At 4:05, “Riff Dealer” is the only cut on the second half of Godfortune // Dark Matters that checks in at under five minutes, and while one might expect that to mean it’s a return to the relatively grounded structures presented earlier, tying disparate ideas and sonic themes together ahead of the finale, that’s a big no dice. “Riff Dealer” pushes into a slower, druggier haze and saves its swing for the back half, cutting to silence well ahead of the arrival of “Head Over Heels,” which fades in on feedback and buzzing amp fuzz. Once again, Teget‘s bass is a standout factor, but Mountain Tamer all seem aware of the occasion, and while I don’t know whether “Head Over Heels” was specifically written to close the album, it excels in that role, calling to mind some of circa-’92 Monster Magnet‘s righteous arrogance in transposing space rock to suit their own needs, even if that’s not a direct comparison of sound.

Atop a rumble and the already noted more grueling lumber, Hall‘s voice echoes as it seems to shout into an unhearing desert. They ride the central riff to a long fadeout and it’s hard to imagine a more fitting end to a record of such obvious individualist pursuits. That is to say, what’s happening throughout Godfortune // Dark Matters is that Mountain Tamer are working toward carving out a niche for themselves in and around heavy rock and psychedelia. They get there, to be sure, but the journey in no way sounds like it’s over.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Mountain Tamer on Instagram

Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

Magnetic Eye Records website

Nasoni Records website

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Mountain Tamer to Release Godfortune Dark Matters Aug. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mountain tamer

If I was the interview-question-asking type, I might hit up Mountain Tamer and attempt to sate my curiosity as to why they moved from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles sometime in between the 2016 release of their self-titled debut (review here) and now. Somebody get a job? Someone have a line to a better rehearsal space? Better scene? Better connections? I don’t know much about Santa Cruz but if California has a hotbed of underground heavy at the moment, it would either be San Diego or San Francisco, and I can’t imagine Mountain Tamer‘s doom-infused heavy psych grooves wouldn’t go over really well in either town. I see stuff like that and get curious sometimes.

Of much greater import at least as regards this post — hey, moving is a big life-decision — is the fact that Mountain Tamer, after putting out the first full-length on Argonauta, have hooked up with Magnetic Eye Records and Nasoni Records both for the follow-up, which is titled Godfortune Dark Matters and set for an Aug. 24 release. You can see more info and the surprisingly foreboding cover art below. If I was the interview-question-asking type, I might be curious about that as well.

From the PR wire:

mountain tamer godfortune dark matters

California stoner-psych trio MOUNTAIN TAMER to release blistering new album, GODFORTUNE DARK MATTERS, on August 24th.

Hailing from the golden coasts of Los Angeles, heavy psych trio Mountain Tamer has been hypnotizing audiences for several years with their lysergic blend of stoner rock structures and psychedelic freakouts. Their lucid jams, swinging drums and angular yet timeless riffs have helped build momentum among fans and critics in anticipation of their new full-length album, Godfortune Darkmatters.

Formed in 2011 just outside San Francisco, Mountain Tamer found early success touring with acts like Dead Meadow, The Budos Band, and Weedeater. After cutting their teeth on the road for a few years, they released their demo, MTNTMR, to the masses, a critical success that landed the band a deal with Argonauta records.

Argonauta released Mountain Tamer’s self-titled debut album, which was lauded by the underground metal press.

Their growing notoriety found the trio, composed of Andrew hall (guitar/vocals), Casey Garcia (drums), and Dave Teget (bass), relocating to LA and opening for the likes of Nick Oliveri’s Mondo Generator and other Cali-based scene stalwarts.

From their new vantage with Nasoni Records and Magnetic Eye Records, Mountain Tamer have their sights set on more touring and pushing their musical horizons with the release of Godfortune Darkmatters, a strutting, garage-tinged groove-fest that delivers on the promise of everything they’ve put forth.

Godfortune Darkmatters releases digitally on Magnetic Eye Records on August 24th. Vinyl edition to follow via the fine folks at Nasoni Records.

Mountain Tamer will blanket the Southwestern and Southern United States on tour this September! Dates in the works as follows:

9/6/2018 Tempe, AZ Yucca Taproom
9/7/2018 El Paso,TX Rockin CIgar Bar
9/8/2018 San Antonio, TX Faust Tavern
9/9/2018 TBD TBD
9/10/2018 Houston, TX Super Happy Funland
9/11/2018 Austin,TX Lost Well
9/12/2018 TBD TBD
9/13/2018 Lafayette, LA Freetown Boom Boom Room
9/14/2018 New Orleans, LA Santos Bar
9/15/2018 Birmingham, AL The Nick
9/16/2018 Memphis TBD
9/17/2018 Nashville Radio Cafe
9/18/2018 TBD TBD
9/19/2018 Washginton, D.C TBD
9/20/2018 Philadelphia, PA Grape Room
9/21/2018 TBD TBD
9/22/2018 TBD TBD
9/23/2018 New York, NY Pianos
9/24/2018 TBD TBD
9/25/2018 TBD TBD
9/26/2018 TBD TBD
9/27/2018 Chicago, IL TBD
9/28/2018 Des moines, IA Vaudeville Mews
9/29/2018 Denver, CO Lions Lair
9/30/2018 Salt Lake City, UT Urban lounge

https://www.facebook.com/MTNTMR/
https://www.instagram.com/mtntmr/
https://mtntmr.bandcamp.com/
https://www.merhq.net/
https://www.nasoni-records.com/

Mountain Tamer, Mountain Tamer (2016)

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Quarterly Review: The Sword, Mountain Tamer, Demon Head, Bushfire, Motherslug, Dove, Treedeon, Falun Gong, Spider Kitten, Greynbownes

Posted in Reviews on April 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Okay then. We got past the first day and I thought it went reasonably well. No casualties. Nobody’s brain melted from trying to find another word for “riffs” for the 19th time, so yeah, mark it a win. There’s a good spread of stuff in today’s batch — a little of this, a little of that — so hopefully somewhere in the mix you’re able to run into something you dig. Hell, I’ll say the same for myself as well. Come on, let’s go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

The Sword, Used Future

the sword used future

Now-veteran Austin heavy rockers The Sword have gotten a mixed response to the more progressive approach their recent work has taken, and I doubt Used Future (on Razor & Tie) is going to be any less polarizing, but its crisp 13 tracks/43 minutes are pulled off with professionalism. Yes, it has its self-indulgent aspects in “Sea of Green” or the earlier instrumental “The Wild Sky,” but The Sword have never done anything other than deliver accessible heavy rock and tour like hell, so while I get the mixed response, at this point I think the band has at very least earned a measure of respect for what they’ve accomplished as ambassadors of underground heavy. They wanna throw a little John Carpenter influence into “Nocturne?” Fine. They’re not hurting anybody. The unfortunate truth about The Sword is that neither polarized side is right. They’re not the end of heavy metal as we know it; some crude ironic take on what metal should be. And they’re not the greatest band of their generation. They have a good record deal. They write decent songs. Where’s the problem with that? I don’t hear it on Used Future.

The Sword on Thee Facebooks

Razor & Tie website

 

Mountain Tamer, Living in Vain Demo

mountain tamer Demo 2017

If it was Mountain Tamer’s intention to get listeners excited about the prospect of a second full-length from the Santa Cruz, CA three-piece, then the Living in Vain demo serves this purpose well. Their 2016 Argonauta Records self-titled debut (review here) expounded on the potential they originally showed with 2015’s Mtn Tmr demo (review here), and though it’s only two songs, Living in Vain would seem to do the same in building on the accomplishments of the album before it. The opening title-track is labeled “Living in Vain Pt. 1” and nestles easily into a mid-paced shuffle before shifting into psychedelic lead layering and a more jammed-out spirit, from which it returns in the last 30 seconds to hit into a more solidified ending riff, leading to the immediately slower “Wretched.” More spacious, more of a march, it plays into an instrumental hook and holds to its structure for its entire 5:40, ending with guitar on a quick fade. Obviously the intention with a release like this is to entice the listener with the prospect of the band’s next album. Living in Vain does that and more.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

 

Demon Head, The Resistance

demon head the resistance

Returning just about a year after issuing their second album, Thunder on the Fields (review here), Copenhagen-based proto-metallers Demon Head offer a new two-songer single titled The Resistance that at least to my ears speaks to the current political moment of populism opposing liberalism – as much at play in Europe as in the US, if not more so – and the fight for an open society. They present it as a six-plus-minute languid groove with flashes of militaristic snare; something of a turn from the cult rock of their two-to-date long-players. One could say the same of the sci-fi themed “Rivers of Mars,” though like its predecessor, it remains sonically on-point with the band’s vintage aesthetic, fostered through naturalist guitar and bass tones, bluesy, commanding vocals and classy, creative drumming. Actually, apply that “classy” all around. As Demon Head continue to come into their own sound, they do so with poise that’s all the more striking for how raw their presentation remains.

Demon Head on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records

 

Bushfire, When Darkness Comes

bushfire when darkness comes

When Darkness Comes is German heavy rocking five-piece Bushfire’s follow-up to late-2013’s Heal Thy Self (review here), and it retains the Darmstadt-based outfit’s penchant for quality riffcraft and a showcase for the vocals of frontman Bill Brown, which hit in bottom-of-the-mouth melodies and gruff shouts fitting to cuts like “The Conflict” and the swinging “Shelter.” Bushfire are no strangers to a semi-Southern element in their sound, and that remains true on When Darkness Comes from the opening title-track through the later “Another Man Down” and closer “Liberation.” Somewhat curiously, that closer is instrumental, and where the vocals play such a role in the overarching impression the record makes, it’s an interesting twist to have them absent from the final statement, leaving guitarists Marcus Bischoff and Miguel Pereira, bassist Vince and drummer Sascha to finish out on their own. If groove is the measure, they’re certainly up to the task, but then, that was never really in doubt.

Bushfire on Thee Facebooks

Bushfire on Bandcamp

 

Motherslug, The Electric Dunes of Titan

motherslug the electric dunes of titan

I’m sorry. I don’t see how you could dig anything calling itself “stoner” and not be down with what Motherslug are doing with their second long-player, The Electric Dunes of Titan. Plus-sized riffing all over the place, languid rollouts, excursions into psychedelic splendor (see “Followers of the Sun,” etc.), explosions into massive groove (see “Staring at the Sun”), a nod to High on Fire in “Tied to the Mast” and a Sleep-style march on closer “Cave of the Last God” that’s probably the best I’ve heard since the Creedsmen Arise demo in 2015. Really, if Motherslug doesn’t do it for you, nothing will. Five years after they initially released their self-titled EP (review here), which was later expanded into their debut album for NoSlip Records (review here), the Melbourne outfit charge back with what should be a litmus test for riff-heads. In all seriousness, from tone to structure to songwriting to production to the cover art, there’s just nothing here that doesn’t deliver the message. Should’ve been on my best of 2017 list.

Motherslug on Thee Facebooks

Motherslug on Bandcamp

 

Dove, Dove Discography

dove discography

In the wake of Floor’s disbanding, drummer Henry Wilson formed Dove. They were around for about five years, did some touring (one remembers picking up their self-titled in a Manhattan basement with $2 Rolling Rocks calling itself The Pyramid), and disbanded to a cult status not so different from that which Floor enjoyed prior to their own reunion, if to something of a lesser degree. As the title indicates, Dove Discography compiles “every listenable track” the band ever put out, including their self-titled, Wilson’s original demo for the project, compilation and 7” material. All told, it’s 20 tracks and just under an hour of documentation for who Dove were and the kind of punk metal they were about, never quite stoner, but heavy rock to be sure, and definitely of the Floridian ilk that produced both Floor and Cavity and a style Wilson has progressed with House of Lightning. Dove could be blazingly intense or they could plod out a huge riff, holding a deceptively wide purview that was only part of the reason they were so underrated at the time.

Dove on Bandcamp

House of Lightning on Thee Facebooks

 

Treedeon, Under the Manchineel

treedeon under the manchineel

To anyone who might complain that all sludge sounds the same, I humbly submit Treedeon, whose second album for Exile on Mainstream, Under the Manchineel, is a work both noise-laden and righteously avant garde. Perhaps even more ferocious than its 2015 predecessor, Lowest Level Reincarnation (review here), the seven-track/44-minute outing offers a touch of melody in “Breathing a Vein” and buried deep in the midsection of 16-minute closer “Wasicu,” and arguably in guitarist Arne Heesch’s delivery in opener “Cheetoh” as well, but he and bassist Yvonne Ducksworth mostly keep to harsh shouts as they create consuming washes of noise over the madcap drumwork of newcomer Andy Schuenemann, who punctuates every punch of Ducksworth’s gotta-hear-it bass tone on album centerpiece “No Hell” as Heesch goes lands the chorus with the line “No hell can hold me” as its standout line. Bringing a sense of themselves to an established style to a degree that’s rare, rarer, rarest, Treedeon are no less aggressively weird than they are aggressive, period.

Treedeon on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream website

 

Falun Gong, Figure 1

Falun Gong Figure 1

There are some post-Electric Wizard shades that emerge in the debut single from London’s Falun Gong by the time it reaches its feedback-soaked finale, but really, “Figure 1” is much more about digging into its own cultistry than that of the Obornian sort. Still, the overarching impression is somewhat familiar, and will be particularly to those who were fans of The Wounded Kings, but the duo who remain anonymous present themselves with a clearheaded intent toward maximum sonic murk, and with the lumbering misery they trod out in “Figure 1,” they seem to achieve what they’re going for. I don’t know who they are, but I’d guess this isn’t their first band, and as crowded as London’s heavy underground has become over the course of this decade, acts like Falun Gong are fewer and farther between than some others, and during these 10 minutes, they make a striking first impression. One hopes for “Figure 2” sooner rather than later.

Falun Gong on Bandcamp

 

Spider Kitten, Concise and Sinister

http://theobelisk.net/obelisk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/spider-kitten-concise-and-sinister.jpg

Intended as a thematic continuation to some degree of 2016’s Ark of Oktofelis, the four-song Concise and Sinister finds long-running multi-genre UK outfit Spider Kitten bookending two extended crushers around two shorter pieces, one of which is a cover of Hank Williams’ “Alone and Forsaken” (also memorably done by 16 Horsepower) and the other of which is a noise-punk assault that lasts 46 seconds and is called “I’m Feeling So Much Better.” Whether fast or slow, loud or quiet, the intention of Spider Kitten doesn’t seem even at its most abrasive to be to punish so much as to challenge, and whether it’s the cinematic elements dug into the march of opener and longest track (immediate points) “A Glorious Retreat” (11:33) or the harmonies that accompany especially-doomed 10-minute closer “Martyr’s Breath,” Spider Kitten and founder Chi Lameo demonstrate a creativity acknowledging that bounds exist and then simply refusing to accept them, making even the familiar seem unfamiliar in the process.

Spider Kitten on Thee Facebooks

Spider Kitten on Bandcamp

 

Greynbownes, Grey Rainbow from Bones

greynbownes grey rainbow from bones

Comprised of guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Lukas, bassist Martin and drummer Jakub, Greynbownes hail from Moravia in the Czech Republic and the moniker-explaining Grey Rainbow from Bones is their self-issued debut full-length. It is comprised of nine tracks of inventive heavy rock, pulling elements from grunge and ‘90s-era stoner noise on cuts like “Across the Bones” while veering into fare more aggressive, or psychedelic or jammy in the trio of six-minute tracks “Seasons,” “Death of Autumn Leaves” and “B 612” that precedes the closing duo of the funky “Sitting at the Top” and the mellow-but-still-heavy finisher “Weight of Sky,” which feels far removed from the opening salvo of “Boat of Fools,” the fuzz-punker “Madness” and the fuckall-chug of “What is at Stake.” Yes, it’s all over the place, and one might expect Greynbownes’ sound to solidify over time, but to the trio’s credit, Grey Rainbow from Bones never flies apart in the way that it seems at multiple points it might, and that’s an encouraging sign.

Greynbownes on Thee Facebooks

Greynbownes on Bandcamp

 

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GIVEAWAY: Win an Argonauta Records Prize Pack Featuring Suma, Dee Calhoun, Komatsu and More!

Posted in Features on December 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

A WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN AND THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED.

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win. Winner is chosen one week from today.]

Enter now to win an Argonauta Records CD prize pack featuring releases from Hollow LegDee CalhounSumaKomatsuVaregoIndiviaMountain TamerObeseLowburn and Beneath the Storm. When the label hit me up last week and asked if I wanted to do a giveaway, I kind of assumed it would be one, maybe two records tops, but I guess when you’ve built up a catalog like the Italian imprint has over the last few years, things like “prize packs” become much easier to assemble. A lot of these releases have been reviewed (and others I’m still catching up to this week — hello, Komatsu), so hopefully the names will be familiar, but either way, free music. Free music sells itself.

Hey, by the way, free music.

I’ve tried to be pretty assiduous in covering Argonauta‘s stuff the last couple years, since I believe that Gero, who runs the label and plays in Varego, is doing good work and for the right reasons. If you’ve hemmed and hawed on checking any of it out, consider this your opportunity to do so with no investment. As always, let me just say I don’t keep anyone’s emails, have no interest in your data, and wouldn’t know what to do with it if I did. So there.

Thanks to Gero and Argonauta for ponying up the prize. Here’s a pic and a list of what you get:

argonauta records

Argonauta Records prize pack – 10 CDs:

INDIVIA – Horta
KOMATSU – Recipe for Murder One
VAREGO – Epoch
DEE CALHOUN – Rotgut
MOUNTAIN TAMER – Mountain Tamer
BENEATH THE STORM – Lucid Nightmare
SUMA – Ashes
LOWBURN – Doomsayer
OBESE – Kali Yuga
HOLLOW LEG – Instinct

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win. Winner is chosen one week from today.]

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Argonauta Records website

A WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN AND THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED.

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016

Posted in Features on December 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 debut albums of 2016

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.

Of all the lists I do to wrap up or start any given year, this is the hardest. As someone obviously more concerned with first impressions than I am and thus probably better-dressed once said, you only get one chance at them. For bands, that can be a vicious bite in the ass on multiple levels.

To wit, you put out a great debut, fine, but there’s a whole segment of your listeners who’re bound to think you’ll never live up to it again. You put out a meh debut, you sell yourself short. Or maybe your debut is awesome but doesn’t really represent where you want to be as a band, so it’s a really good first impression, but a mistaken one. There are so many things that can go wrong or go right with any LP, but with debuts, the stakes are that much higher because it’s the only time you’ll get the chance to engage your audience for the first time. That matters.

And when it comes to putting together a list of the best debuts of the year, how does one begin to judge? True, some of these acts have done EPs and singles and splits and things like that before, and that’s at least something to go on, but can one really be expected to measure an act’s potential based on a single collection of songs? Is that fair to anyone involved? Or on the other side, is it even possible to take a debut entirely on its own merits, without any consideration for where it might lead the band in question going forward? I know that’s not something I’ve ever been able to do, certainly. Or particularly interested in doing. I like context.

Still, one presses on. I guess the point is that, like picking any kind of prospects, some will pan out and some won’t. I’ve done this for enough years now that I’ve seen groups flame or fade out while others have risen to new heights with each subsequent release. It’s always a mix. But at the same time, it’s important to step back and say that, as of today, this is where it’s at.

And so it is:

KING BUFFALO ORION

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016

1. King Buffalo, Orion
2. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree
3. Heavy Temple, Chassit
4. Holy Grove, Holy Grove
5. Worshipper, Shadow Hymns
6. Vokonis, Olde One Ascending
7. Wretch, Wretch
8. Year of the Cobra, In the Shadows Below
9. BigPig, Grande Puerco
10. Fuzz Evil, Fuzz Evil
11. Bright Curse, Before the Shore
12. Conclave, Sins of the Elders
13. Pale Grey Lore, Pale Grey Lore
14. High Fighter, Scars and Crosses
15. Spirit Adrift, Chained to Oblivion
16. Bellringer, Jettison
17. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Is Satan Real?
18. Merchant, Suzerain
19. Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae
20. King Dead, Woe and Judgment

Honorable Mention

There are many. First, the self-titled from Pooty Owldom, which had so much weirdo charm it made my head want to explode. And Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun‘s acoustic solo record was technically a debut. And Atala‘s record. And Horehound. And Mother Mooch. And Domkraft. And Spaceslug. And Graves at Sea? Shit. More than a decade after their demo, they finally put out a debut album. And Second Grave‘s full-length would turn out to be their swansong, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the thing. There were a lot of records to consider in putting this list together. As always, it could’ve been a much longer list.

For example, here are 20 more: Swan Valley Heights, Arctic, Blues Funeral, Teacher, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Nonsun, Duel, Banquet, Floodlore, Mindkult‘s EP, Mountain Dust, Red LamaRed Wizard, Limestone Whale, Dunbarrow, Comacozer, Sinister Haze, Pants Exploder, Akasava, Katla and No Man’s Valley. That’s not even the end of it. I could go on.

Notes

It was a fight to the finish. There’s always one, and as late as yesterday I could be found kicking back and forth between King Buffalo and Elephant Tree in the top spot. What was it that finally put King Buffalo‘s Orion over Elephant Tree‘s self-titled? I don’t know. Ask me tomorrow and the answer might be completely different.

They had a lot in common. Not necessarily in terms of style — King Buffalo basked in spacious Americana-infused heavy psych jams while Elephant Tree proffered more earthbound riffing and melodies — but each executed memorable songs across its span in a way that would be unfair to ask of a debut. The potential for what both bands can turn into down the line played a part in the picks, but something else they share between them is that the quality of the work they’re doing now warrants the top spots. Orion and Elephant Tree were great albums, not just great first albums.

From there, we see a wide swath of next-generation encouragement for the future of heavy rock, whether it’s coming from Sweden’s Vokonis or Philadelphia’s Heavy Temple, or London’s Bright Curse, or Los Angeles duo BigPig. The latter act’s punkish fuzz definitely benefited from guitarist/vocalist Dino von Lalli‘s experience playing in Fatso Jetson, but one hopes that as the years go on his own multifaceted songwriting style will continue to grow as well.

A few offerings weren’t necessarily unexpected but still lived up to the anticipation. High Fighter‘s EP prefaced their aggro sludgecore well. Ditto that for the grueling death-sludge of Massachusetts natives Conclave. The aforementioned Bright Curse, Merchant, Fuzz Evil, Atala, Bellringer, Holy Grove, Wretch and Worshipper all had offerings of one sort or another prior to their full-length debuts — in the case of Bellringer, it was just a series of videos, while Wretch had the entire The Gates of Slumber catalog to fall back on — but each of those albums offered surprises nonetheless.

It would’ve been hard not to be taken by the songwriting on display from the likes of Holy Grove, Year of the Cobra, Pale Grey Lore and Beastmaker, who between them covered a pretty broad variety of atmosphere but found ways to deliver high-quality crafted material in that. Those albums were a pleasure to hear. Put Boston’s Worshipper in that category as well, though they were just as much a standout from the pack in terms of their performance as what they were performing. Speaking of performance, the lush melodies from Church of the Cosmic Skull and classic progressive flourish were enough to make me a believer. Simply gorgeous. And one-man outfit Spirit Adrift shined, if in that matte-black doom kind of way, on an encouraging collection of modern melancholic heavy that seemed to hint at sprawl to come.

As we get down to the bottom of the list we find Pennsylvania ambient heavy post-rockers King Dead. Their Woe and Judgment was released digitally last year (2015) but the LP came out earlier this year, so I wasn’t quite sure where to place them ultimately. I know they got some mention on the 2015 lists somewhere, but while they’re an act who’ve flown under a lot of people’s radar as yet, I have good feelings about how they might continue to dig into their sound and the balance of bleakness and psychedelic color they bring to their material. They’re slated for a follow-up in 2017, so this won’t be the last list on which they appear in the next few weeks.

Like I said at the outset, putting out a debut album is a special moment for any band. Not everyone gets to that point and not everyone gets beyond it, so while a list like this is inherently bound to have some element of speculation, it’s still a worthy endeavor to celebrate the accomplishments of those who hit that crucial moment in their creative development. Hopefully these acts continue to grow, flourish, and build on what they’ve thus far been able to realize sonically. That’s the ideal.

And before I go, once again, let me reinforce the notion that I recognize this is just a fraction of the whole. I’d like it to be the start of a conversation. If there was a debut album that kicked your ass this year and you don’t see it here, please drop a note in the comments below. I’m sure I’ll be adding more honorable mentions and whatnot over the next couple days, so if you see glaring omissions, let’s have ’em.

Thanks for reading.

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Mountain Tamer, Mountain Tamer: The Burning Mind (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 4th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

mountain tamer mountain tamer

[Click play above to stream Mountain Tamer’s self-titled debut in full. Album is out Feb. 12 on Argonauta Records.]

Tripped out trio Mountain Tamer made a lasting impression in 2015 with their vowel-less Mtn Tmr demo (review here), and they follow and expand on that initial offering with a self-titled debut on Argonauta Records. The three tracks that featured on the demo — “Dunes of the Mind,” “Satan’s Waitin'” and “Sum People” — return on Mountain Tamer, but the shift in context is striking as the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Andru, bassist/vocalist Dave Teget and drummer/vocalist Casey Garcia carve out their niche somewhere between the lurching grunge of “Sum People” and “Knew” and the heavy psych freakouts of “Mind Burner” and “Pharosite” that bookend.

Based in Santa Cruz, California, their style is more intense overall than a lot of the chilled-to-the-max guitar-heroics of the post-Earthless set, but not necessarily born of wildly different influences in classic heavy rock, punk and desert jams. The result across the eight-track/40-minute span of the album is a work that’s as gritty as it is lysergic, elements of noise rock in the catchy “Knew” resting fluidly with the garage rock strut of “Wolf” as the fuzzier “Vixen” blends the two with hairy lead tones and molten percussive build. Still, a psychedelic haze settles in almost immediately on “Mind Burner” at the record’s laid back opening, and that seems to inform everything that comes after one way or another, and as driving as Mountain Tamer get, their overarching atmosphere is headier than it is aggressive.

In that way, they’re very much of their coast, but the multi-vocalist approach, their penchant for departing from structure into jammy flights on cuts like “Dunes of the Mind,” “Vixen” and “Satan’s Waitin'” and the swing they present in their underlying groove is markedly their own. Following the steady fuzz layering of “Mind Burner,” “Knew” picks up with the catchiest chorus of Mountain Tamer, delivered more in a shout backed by melodic vocals in a way that reminds of Nick Oliveri-fronted Queens of the Stone Age but never tips over into directly doing the same thing.

mountain tamer

“Knew” gets maddest in its second half, but it’s never actually out of control, and AndruTeget and Garcia bring it around to a last run through the hook that makes it all the more a highlight en route to the longer, farther-ranging “Dunes of the Mind,” which airs out the guitar tone in initial thickened boogie and stretches into psychedelic atmospherics later on, a slowdown setting up the all-thrust finale, cut short at the end of the track. Variety continues to be a running theme as “Vixen” picks up with a shoegaze-gone punk pulsation, guitars shooting from one channel to the next as the band leaves the verse behind, jamming out, coming back, jamming out, coming back again for a final bluesy push that rounds out side A with a reinforcement of the acid rock traditionalism on which a lot of Mountain Tamer‘s extrapolations are based. All those dudes were running blues riffs through wah. Nearly half a century later, so it goes again.

As one would hope, side B weirds out a little but more. “Wolf in the Streets” goes cowbell and howlin’ at first, but finds its crux in a heavy psych build that features some of the album’s best guitar/bass interplay in its instrumental payoff before the final chorus, and the familiar strains of “Sum People” (also listed as “Sum Peeps”) pick up with a drawn-down version of the intensity that came forward on “Knew,” that before-grunge-had-a-name disaffection presented through slogging toms and resonant vocal fuckall as a thesis with which it’s hard to argue. Even here, Mountain Tamer find room to jam, and the ending of “Sum People” leads particularly effectively into “Satan’s Waitin’,” which launches with a foundation of bass and shifts through a spacey verse into jazzier drum-led rhythmic fare topped with stoned guitar on its way back to wherever the hell it came from, ending with a drawl on the hook and that bassline.

Remember when I mentioned weirding out? There it is. Then comes “Pharosite” to play the one side directly off the other — somehow the tones are warmer as they do — on a mostly instrumental capstone topped with shaker, a few rock-as-tribal shouts and a riotous noise and cymbal finish that, frankly, the album well earned. It wraps on a quick fade as if the band ran out of the room, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was actually the case, since the energy they put into the presentation of these tracks seems to come with corresponding wandering of attention. That’s not to say the songwriting isn’t focused, just that it’s multi-directional. That invariably will be a plus as Mountain Tamer move forward, but it’s also essential in making their debut as raucous and switched on as it is. And it is.

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Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

Mountain Tamer website

Argonauta Records

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